WALK WITH NATURE – ASTBURY MERE

Walk with Nature around Astbury Mere Country Park

Thursday 5 May 2022

Seven members joined walk leaders Lydia and Ian Taylor on a dry overcast morning to walk around their local patch at Astbury Mere.

Astbury Mere
Astbury Mere

This circular walk is on the site of an old sand quarry that ceased extraction in the 1980’s. The land couldn’t be returned to agricultural use as originally planned because it was now a Mere, a fantastic site for birdwatching, fishing and some water-based activities. Stoke on Trent Angling Society own the Mere and the immediate shoreline and after 20 years of negotiations Astbury Mere Trust took management of the remainder of the site to develop it into the Country Park amenity it is today.

Astbury Mere
Astbury Mere

As we followed the path around the Mere we immediately heard and had excellent views of a willow warbler, the long-distance summer migrant from Africa. Robins, wrens and dunnocks were singing to maintain their territories or attract a mate as the sun decided to come out and warm up the surroundings. The familiar call of the chiffchaff was heard and we quickly found the bird as it moved through the bushes singing and picking off grubs to eat. The sweet song of a blackcap caught everybody’s attention as we rounded the top corner of the lake.

Out on the Mere coot were in good numbers and could easily be seen by the white shields on their foreheads, with little flotillas of tufted ducks staying away from the edge. A few sand martins were seen swooping across the water feeding on insects, but no swallows or house martins were found. A couple of great crested grebes were observed head bobbing out on the water as they started their courtship display to each other.

Cowslips
Cowslips

A search along the hedgerow as we approached the Visitor Centre found noisy house sparrows, greenfinch and chaffinch calling.

In total we saw/heard 24 different species and the full bird list was:

Species Name
Mute Swan
Mallard
Tufted Duck
Great Crested Grebe
Common Wood Pigeon
Common Moorhen
Common Coot
Magpie
Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Sand Martin
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaff
Long-tailed Tit
Blackcap
Wren
Starling
Blackbird
Robin
Dunnock
House Sparrow
Chaffinch
Greenfinch

Ian and Lydia Taylor