Spring Birding on the Course

Peter Twist, an ex-member of the golf club has wrtiten this article for members and visitors alike.

Spring is most evident as I write this piece and all birders are looking forward to the onslaught of the forthcoming spring migration. Fieldfares and Redwings are returning to Scandinavia but can still be seen and heard calling when flying over, sometimes in large flocks. Look out for them early morning as they feed-up for energy on berries, insects and worms for their ongoing flight home.

Summer visiting breeders are on our southern shores from early March onwards arriving in Cheshire mid-March. It commences with a slow trickle but by the end of March Chiffchaff will be singing from the tops of trees and can be heard and seen almost anywhere on the course. The occasional Sand Martin can be seen flying over to a more northerly destination. Also look out for the early arriving Blackcap which breeds around the course.

By mid-April Swallows can be seen. I can always set my calendar clock by their arrival at a local farm as they arrive to breed on 14 April every year – uncanny…!! House Martins arrive a little later and Swifts (becoming less common) can usually be seen from the beginning of May. Unfortunately, both of these species do not breed on or around the course but can be seen as flyovers early morning or late evening. However, I have noted Swifts over the ‘grounds’ storage facility during the summer and suspect they breed somewhere along Bankhall Lane.

Resident birds are already in courtship displays and can be heard singing from Early March through April and May. Birds to look out for on the course are:
Nuthatch - Treecreeper - Great Spotted Woodpecker - Blackbird - Song Thrush Mistle Thrush - Robin - Wren - Chaffinch - Goldfinch - Blue Tit - Great Tit -Long-tailed Tit

Around the 5th and 7th T and 6th hole Bullfinch can be seen regularly and are clearly identified by their plaintiff and melancholy ‘phyuuuu… or ‘phu, phu’.

Anywhere along the River Bollin Kingfisher can be heard as they fly this stretch of water. Listen out for its flight call as it speeds low along the river, a distinctive high pitched ‘ziiii’ sometimes repeated. Those of you who are lucky will see its’ bright blue iridescent back and tail as it flies past and away from you. I normally see/hear this bird on the stretch of the Bollin adjacent the 3rd fairway, but you need to slice your T shot to achieve a sighting…!! A pair of Grey Wagtails nested in the past few years around the 5th hole/6th T. River birds also include annual sightings of Goosander by some members. I am keen to prove breeding but, unfortunately, have not been able to do so. I suspect they breed further up the River towards Wilmslow and the east of the county. The male of the species deserts the female once brooding of eggs commence and relocate to other parts of the river, perhaps that’s why there are regular summer sightings from the course. Keep a look out.

Other birds to look out for are Kestrel and Sparrowhawk which I see occasionally but almost always on the Peninsular. Buzzards are now common place and generally breed to the south of the course but can be seen hunting anywhere whilst playing golf.Other less common birds seen passing through and over the course are Siskin and Lesser Redpoll as they head back home to breed in the north of the UK.Obviously, birds can be seen anywhere on the course but the most productive area is around the 5th T. I suppose this is because there is a lot of golf going on around this area with time to just look around whilst waiting for other golfers to play their T shot or allow other golfers to pass through. In the past I’ve seen Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler and always look forward to a fresh Spring in anticipation of a new club sighting.Please enjoy your birding but, most of all, do not be accused of slow play as you look out for that elusive bird and, don’t forget to enter your sightings in the Birdlog next to the bar.

Peter Twist
11 March 2014

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