Birds on’t Moss

Local bird expert and Friends of Chat Moss Social Media Officer gives us a run down of what birds to see and when.

Short Eared Owl LWMNR
Short Eared Owl


….birds to be found out on our Moss-what can we expect?

Well this all depends on

  • how harsh the weather is, or is not
  • the food availability—are there fields of food providing stubble/weedy areas not yet ‘tidied up’-weed seeds mean FOOD/are there those rare areas of farmland that have small amounts of crops purposefully planted up to aid wild bird survival—there is funding for this/is there plenty of Purple Moor Grass seeds on our Little Woolden Moss Reserve that will feed the smaller birds in sufficient numbers to attract birds of prey/are the usual soggy areas where crops were not harvested full of a winter harvest for nature..the list goes on.
  • A lack of food in mainland Europe or an excess of bitterly cold weather which can bring ‘eruptions’ of hungry migrants looking for food on our ‘milder’ Gulf Stream blessed shores….

Cutting to the quick what we should/hope to see on a wintry ramble about our as yet still extensive Mosslands on an ordinary day’s Bimble without digging too deep into every nook and cranny….

Linnet/ReedBunting/Yellowhammer/Skylark/Buzzard/Chaffinch/Fieldfare/ Redwing….

And with some effort and luck

Grey Partridge/Snipe/Short Eared Owl/Brambling/Peregrine/Merlin/ Redpoll/Tree Sparrow….

Young Lapwing
Young Lapwing


…and the bubble should burst cascading summer migrants onto their home ‘Our’—no ‘Their’ in my opinion—Moss

The influx of birds returning to their Mosslands home at this time of the year simply depends upon the rawness of nature and the intervention of mankind along their increasingly perilous migration routes which can deplete their numbers in the millions…in my lifetime the hunting of a once relatively common summer visitor the Turtle Dove has robbed our Moss of a most beautiful bird..

Inspite of the travails of migration this is a time of the year when each note of another arriving migrant’s song sings of a symphony of delight…

Chiffchaff with their onomatopoetic song which shouts out this birds name is usually the first migrant to be heard

Sand Martin although often earlier arrivals than the previous species are, if you are looking at the sky at the right time, usually whizzing over the Moss to their more northern breeding grounds-our local birds arrive slightly later.

Then the cascading song of a Willow Warbler catches your ears and chimes at your heartstrings when you first pick up this delightful carpet of song that tells of a determined 12.5 cm bundle of life filled feathers which is so joyous on arriving back from its sub-Saharan wintering grounds and ready to freely lift the air on our Moss into spring.

Wheatear also arrive and parade their sleek colourful lines upon the catwalks of our Moss before they move on to distant hills after a brief period of refuelling…and so this glorious time of the year sweeps in…

Now look out for birds which are here to breed out on our Moss

Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Whitethroat, Lapwing, House Martin…all sharing this open countryside with Buzzard, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail…

And with some effort and luck you may see

Corn Bunting, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Hobby…..



…the inflow and outflow of life away from the cold

…then ‘invites’ the summer visitors to leave by gently removing their insect food supply whilst it hopefully supplies remnant food sources in its winter stubbles and quietly un-tidied corners where seeds offer a larder of life to -sustain birds which have been encouraged to leave their summer homes in latitudes much further north..

Now the moss expectantly turns its attention to the arrival of Pink-Footed Geese most of which pass over our Moss on the way to eastern counties where sugar beet and marshland sustain them overwinter but of late thanks to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust new Reserve on Little Woolden Moss some started to overwinter recently but however you may encounter these Icelandic wanderers I defy you not to deny your primeval spines from tingling  at such a time honoured movement of these ever changing formations of V’s that can noisily own our sky as they restlessly move east.

Now expect to see Flocks of Skylark, Meadow Pipit, as they arrive to refuel on their onward journeys whilst flocks of Starling arrive and stay as they take refuge from their summer homeland in Northern Russia and Poland which during our ‘mild’ winter will be frozen over…

If there are any notable bodies of watery ground there could be an autumn passage of wading birds as has occurred on Little Woolden Moss with a brief window of opportunity to see

Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Black Tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Golden Plover, Grey Plover

We then settle once more into winter where with the right winter gear a wander out on our moss with alert eyes and ears can lead us to a Moss land host which offers plenty of ornithological interest and such lovely open space which sits so very near to vast conurbations—a delight to the eye and a treat for the soul.


Yellow Wagtail 2 (2)
Yellow Wagtail. Photo by Andy Hankinson

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