Bird watching is a great pastime, lots of things to see, birds, animals and plants. Lots of places to go, RSPB reserves, Local Nature reserves, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, Local Wildlife Trust the list goes on. All of them worth a visit and all of them geared up for the bird watcher and natural history enthusiast. If it's a long way to your nearest reserve, why not pick your own local spot and spend time bird watching there. I find this to be a really interesting alternative to the organised reserves. Patch birding is a real eye opener, there's no entry fees, normally no other bird watchers and because the area may be an unknown quantity as far as birds are concerned, there are usually a lot of surprizes in store too.
Grasshopper Warbler 28.04.13
I started watching a small patch of land on the inland side of Southport last year, I hadn't given it a second look in the past, but since my usual patch, Marshside RSPB was well covered by bird watchers every day I thought I'd give it a go.
I'm glad I did. The area is a reclaimed tip, now called Kew Community Woodland and is 3.5 hectors in size, it is about 4 years old, it has been landscaped, planted up and pathways laid for easy access. It is looked after by Sefton Council and the Forestry Commission with other partners in place too.
Habitat is a mixture of small copses, a brook, bramble patches, horse paddocks, wet marshy areas, small reed fringed ditches and open meadow, the beauty of it is that it is easily covered by foot, thoroughly in a couple of hours.
Last year I recorded 103 species of birds, including some real surprises. Little and Great White Egrets, Peregrine Falcon and Hobby, 11 Redstarts!, multiple Lesser whitethroats, Grasshopper Warblers, Spotted Flycatchers, Whinchats and Tree Pipits (2 of which stayed a week).
Tree Pipit 21.04.13
Early on in the year I came across several wintering Jack Snipes, simply superb, a Woodcock showed on several occasions too, and I even set up a feeding station in one of the copses. Food from Twootz.com of course. Not knowing what I'd get, I was pleased to find Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits, Siskins and Redpolls all making use of the station, even a Tawny Owl and Sparrowhawk hung around in the hope of picking something up!
As well as the Tawny Owl, Barn and Little Owl became regular features through the year and this year we have a Short-eared on site too, fantastic.
Remember how small this site is, remember where it is (surrounded by development), remember what it was and remember how new it is. It just goes to show the importance of small pockets of habitat and how interesting they can be for novice and even for seasoned bird watchers.
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