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.
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.
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.
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:
Great Crested Grebe
Common Wood Pigeon
Ian and Lydia Taylor