Friday, 12 February 2016

Redesmere Feb 2016

With a beautiful day of sunshine on offer, I finished up work early so I could head over to Redesmere near Siddington in east Cheshire. Partly to get in some much needed practice with a new camera, but also of course to get out and enjoy wildlife watching in some sun. The birds I generally see there aren't especially unusual, but are always a pleasure to watch and photograph... the fact that conditions were calm, dry and bright made a  welcome change from recent weeks!

Greeting me as I got out of the car a Robin called, closely followed by calls of "Chiswick, Chiswick", which of course could only mean that close by were Pied wagtails. Soon enough I spotted a handful of these pretty little black and white birds running around on the tarmac, dodging the moving cars. (It always concerns me when I see them scurrying in busy car parks but they seem to be very aware and capable of avoiding the traffic.) A female Chaffinch watched from a nearby tree in case this new arrival might mean a few crumbs of bread to be had. On the far side of the mere I watched as a Sparrowhawk shot along the treeline.

Black-headed gull
The location is popular with people coming to feed the ducks, geese and swans and the usual suspects of Mallards and Black-headed gulls were there in their hundreds. As usual were a handful of larger gulls in amongst them including Common and Herring gulls of differing ages. Some old friends were there amongst the Black-headed gulls - birds wearing 'darvics' 2F70, 2F90 and 2F91. These are individual gulls I have seen and reported the details previous years (initially in 2013) and have reported the sightings to the researchers again this week. I wrote about these gulls and their monitoring (as well as how to report a ringed bird) in a previous post here. Ringed birds seen can be reported through the EURING website here. The data obtained from sightings is of great value to researchers so I would always encourage anyone to report the details of ringed birds seen or found.

Gull '2F91'

The usual gang of white farmyard (Embden) geese patrolled the car park, I felt a thwack on the leg as one ran past wings outstretched chasing off another. Common they might be but Mallards are still very beautiful ducks - oh how we'd flock to see them if they were rare. 

Male Mallard, resplendent in his his breeding plumage

In amongst the Mallards and geese were several pairs of Tufted ducks - small diving ducks that have a tendency to disappear underwater just as you are about to take their photo...

Male Tufted duck

Female Tufted duck

Large flocks of Greylag and Canada geese also frequent the mere - I aimed the camera at a large flock of Greylags passing overhead. I'm not sure that I managed to get a single bird in focus, and there are of course lots of chopped bits of birds but I still quite liked this image for the sense of slightly chaotic and noisy action it portrays of this incoming flock of geese. One of my favourite sounds when out watching wildlife is the humming sounds of the wingbeats of large birds.

Greylag geese

Rails were represented by familiar Coots and their superficially similar cousins Moorhens (more of the latter than I can remember  seeing here previously)

A partially submerged branch afforded one Moorhen a particularly good vantage point, as well as nicely showing off the oversized feet that make them so adept at walking on and amongst partially submerged vegetation such as reeds and waterlilies. 

Making the most of the sunlight I tried to photograph the beautifully red eyes that both Coots and Moorhens have.

Another Moorhen


All in all it was a visit where I didn't see any uncommon birds but it was just a pleasure to grab an hour out in the sun watching the wildlife. (And if there was one valuable lesson learned on the camera front, it was to not assume that the exposure compensation dial works in the same direction on all cameras!!! Ah well.)


  1. Amazing what a difference good light can make - great photos! I like the geese shot a lot. I still refer to Redesmeer as 'gee-wiz' - every time my dad turned on to Redesmeer Lane he'd exclaim 'gee-wiz' as he was always surprised at the number of cars parked next to the lake.

    1. Thanks very much Phil, it's great to finally see some sun again - I don't mind the cold, but endless driving rain, wind and grey skies gets a bit depressing! I know what you mean about the cars, it's not somewhere I'd rush to on a warm sunny weekend, and some of the people drive me nuts, if they don't like/are scared of gulls/geese/swans, honestly, why go!?!?!

    2. If they are scared by gulls they've probably been reading the Daily Mail (or similar comic) - they love a wildlife peril story - successfully creates the idea that wildlife is dangerous and indeed the enemy!

    3. Some of the reports I've read are pretty ridiculous and the DM seems to have hugely contradictory attitudes to wildlife with certain animals/birds assigned the role of perennial villain.

      Lol at "or similar comic". :)