Having dropped one of my daughters and her mates at Alton Towers for the day, I used the opportunity to spend the day at Woolston Eyes Bird Reserve near Warrington, Cheshire. Featured recently on Chris Packham's excellent 'Nature's Calender' BBC series, the reserve is managed by the Woolston Eyes Conservation Group and contains a good population of breeding Black-necked Grebes. More information, including obtaining permits, can be found on the WECG website.
Below is a list of the species observed:
Black-necked Grebe - at least 26 birds, 13 adults and 13 young at various stages of development from three tiny chicks on the back of an adult, the adult and chicks being fed by the other parent, to a fully-grown independent juvenile
Little Grebe - adult on nest
Great Crested Grebe - a pair with one young
Ruddy Duck - three pairs with broods of 5, 6 and 9 plus at least two other adult males
Teal - one in eclipse plumage
Wigeon - two adult males
Shoveller - three pairs
Gadwall - numerous
Pochard - several pairs
Tufted Duck - numerous, one pair with a brood of 7 young
Black-headed Gull - 200-300
Other species: Mallard, Lapwing, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Wood Pigeon, Swift, House Martin, Sand Martin, Swallow, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Kestrel.
Butterflies: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Speckled Wood.
Damselflies: Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly.
(Photos: © Paul Masters)