An excellent start to the month. Not as warm, or bright, as yesterday but lovely walking weather. I walked under Dancing Bridge to the Mill then up Houndings Lane to Hassall Road, down to the canal and Maddock's Lock then back along the towpath to Iron Bridge and the Rail Trail home. A pair of Tawny Owls were calling in the woodland between the Mill and the electricity sub-station. A GSW was heard as I approached the bypass on the way home.
Knowing that the Rail Trail and the towpath up to Hassall Green would be too busy I decided to walk back to the Flashes on the 4th. Plenty to see on the way but a pair of Little Ringed Plovers brought this years bird count to 67. First Comma, Orange Tip and Small White Butterflies recorded today.
I walked up to Lock 55 on the sixth. Hail and sleet showers throughout the day reduced my chances of spotting anything out of the ordinary. There were a couple of Shelducks in a puddle in the field by Roughwood Lane bridge. I managed to get a shot of a Heron as it took off into the wind and sleet.
My first sighting of Mallard ducklings this year was on the eighth. 4 were with their mother by the Iron Bridge. 2 of them have unusually pale plumage and, if they survive, I'll have to wait and see what they grow into. The magpies were taking a keen interest in them.
Forget-me-nots have replaced the Violets along the Rail Trail and there are Bluebells and Fritillaries in Maddock's Wood.
12th was a lovely day and my walk to Elton Hall Flash was rewarded with A Yellow Wagtail, (lifer),and the yearly first Swallows and House Martins. Yearly First shots included Black-tailed Godwit, Chiffchaff, Gadwall, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Little Ringed Plover, and Reed Bunting. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap still singing away all over the place.
The biggest brood of ducklings recorded so far, 13, was seen above Lock 64 on 13th. I returned to Crewe Park on 14th and recorded a Lifetime First sighting and photo of the Little Owl.
.Nothing of note until 19th when I got a yearly first Blackcap sighting and photo. It was more of an insect day with Comma, Orangetip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and various unidentified White Butterflies. Bumblebees, HoneyBees and Hoverflies added to the mix of pollinating insects. One of the Plume species of Moth was seen but I don't know which particular species it was.
First Jay sighting for a long time was on 20th and Cowslips recorded where the Salt Line crosses Betchton Lane. Nice to see a pair of Treecreepers feeding together as I turned to head back. First time I'd seen a pair that close together. My first Canal Swallow was seen taking a drink by Lock 60 but no others seen yet between Wheelock Wharf and Pierpoint's Bridge.
First Coal Tit photo of the year was taken on the Iron Bridge on 21st and at the same place a pair of Grey Squirrels were feeding together; which was another first from the Iron Bridge.
After having my second jab in Middlewich on the 23rd I went for a walk along the Shropshire Union Canal, Middlewich Branch. Highlight were a pair of Mute Swans mating and a pair of Green-veined White Butterflies also mating. Story and pictures on flickr and facebook.
More Swallows and Martins are turning up and have now been seen between Sunt's Bridge to Lock 60. The first Swallows at Ettiley Heath were seen on the 28th and numbers are growing at PHF.