Our Birdwatch at Rollins Wood
Fletcher Moss in Didsbury is the birthplace of not just the RSPB but also the annual Manchester FoE trip to a park or open space to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. After previous, highly successful visits to Sale Water Park and Fog Lane Park, this time we went a little further afield to Rollins Wood in Marple near Stockport.
We were invited there by one of our members, Greg, who has been involved in improving this previously neglected patch of woodland. This is run as a community woodland by volunteers, and you can now see where trees have been planted and where rough grassland has been converted into a wildflower area.
To start with, we went along part of the Peak Forest Canal, built for the transport of limestone and coal before Marple became a mainly residential area. Greg showed us along the flight of locks (all listed buildings) where the canal rises from the aqueduct towards Marple town centre. Then we went down through a wood to where trees have recently been planted at the edge of Brabyns Park. Many fields and open spaces in the Marple area have been, or will soon be, used to establish new woodlands—which will help soak up some of the carbon released when coal was one of our main fuels.
Over a small iron bridge—also a listed building, made by a Salford firm in 1813—Rollins Wood itself had quite a large number of birds. Some common species such as starlings were missing, but there were robins, great tits and woodpigeons, as well as a group of jackdaws that settled in a nearby tree just long enough to be officially recorded. (One of the rules of the Birdwatch is that birds that fly over without landing aren’t counted.) A mystery bird heard calling from a dense patch of holly bushes may have been a goldcrest but didn’t come out into the open to let us identify it. However, we had a good view of a treecreeper, the most unusual bird we saw on our walk. It’s a small bird with brown upper parts and white lower parts, with the unmistakable habit of running up tree trunks.
Fortunately, the weather stayed dry and quite mild throughout the Birdwatch. At the end of the hour set aside for the count, we went back over the iron bridge and followed the river Goyt to yet another listed building (in the shape of the Norfolk Arms), where we had lunch before setting off on the train back to Manchester. Who knows where our 2024 birdwatch will take us?