19 Mar 2008

Devon Bonanza

1st winter male King Eider, Instow

Also got Surf Scoter, Cirl Bunting, GN Diver, B T Diver, Dartford Warbler, Spoonbill and Long-billed Dowitcher. Jammed in on distant Franklins Gull at Keynsham on way home.

Off to Australia tomorrow so no updates for a couple of weeks.

15 Mar 2008

At home in my adopted county.

I'm not originally from Cheshire but have made it my home and an enthusiastic local birder! All good birders should work a local patch and become immersed in birding within the county they live in. Hence my dedication to the Wirral & Cheshire. Its a great county to live in for birding and something suprising is always just around the corner - like these Eider off the N Wirral coast yesterday afternoon. Found by me and twitched by Mr Conlin. Superb!

Plenty of other birds around with Red-throated Diver & Razorbill being the best. Good numbers of Great-crested Grebes and Common Scoter were on the sea but no sign of any summer migrants in the paddocks around Leasowe Common & Lighthouse. Surmising the overnight conditions and early morning drizzle were likely to result in at least some grounded migrants I was up and out early this morning. Sure enough I found a immaculate male Wheatear feeding in pastures along the Birkett. The first of the year. Star bird however was a summer plumaged Water Pipit with a flock of 50+ Meadow Pipits in the fields opposite Park Lane Caravan site. My first summer plumaged bird for many a year..................

Earlier in the week I was able to catch up with a Night Heron at Mere Sands Wood lnr, Lancs. This bird is being touted as perhaps being of the N American race. Hmm. Can't see it myself.

9 Mar 2008

Panic sets in for a short moment.......

Ever had one of those days when you think you've found something special and then dismiss it as something not so special and then ahve those nagging doubts.................................Well it happened to us yesterday. Allan, Frank and yours truly had spent a fruitless few hours searching for early migrants on the N Wirral coast in blustery conditions when the other two decided to head in land towards Carr Lane, Moreton. I carried on the fruitless search with Molly until a phone call from Frank had me racing back to the car. The lads had found an odd looking alba Wagtail with extensive white in the wings. Arriving at the site it took us another few minutes to relocate the bird. it was odd looking and had virtually all white primaries, greater & median coverts as well as a very white head. Hmm - my first thoughts were Amur but it couldn't be could it?
With the weather closing in we all left. Arriving home I started looking at the texts and there right before my eyes was a picture looking exactly like our bird - an Amur Wagtail. Oh shit! have we coked up? A quick phone cal to Allan & Frank to see if they'd noted the all improtant flank colour (none of us had!) and I was back in the car with camera heading up the M53!

We found the bird fairly quickly but then it flew to a more distant field where a few distant shots were managed. Then it flew and was never seen again as it departed over the distant houses. Unfortunately for us the bird had grey flanks - the one factor we hadn't noted. Oh well.

Closer to home I've been out and about in the local area hunting for something new or unusual. The hours spent out in the field resulted in a new addition to the local 'patch' list with a hen Pheasant being seen early Friday morning.

Spring passage has started with small numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits being heard flying overhead. More evidence of this came with the first spring Lesser Redpoll in Stanney Woods where the resident Marsh Tit(s) are now in full song.

2 Mar 2008

A stormy weekend on the Wirral.

With birding success on the N Wirral coast Friday afternoon I decided to head that way again Saturday afternoon after arranging to meet up with the Wirrals premier seawatcher Allan Conlin.
First stop was New Brighton Marine lake where a 2nd winter Med Gull showed well on the landing stage. Using the Landrover as a hide I managed a few shots despite the severe buffeting from the near gale force winds. Suddenly it flew off and didn't return.
The surrrounding grassy areas held good numbers if roosting gulls so I decided to check these out. Again the use of the vehicle as a hide allowed some pretty good close up views and enabled a comparison of the different plumages.

Common Gulls were pretty 'common' and many were 'paddling' to try and get worms to the surface. Some, like the bird to the left , were in full breeding regalia whilst others were still in their winter finery.

summer plumaged adult Common Gull

Next stop Leasowe Gunsites where I was soon joined by Allan looking smart in his new 'India' jacket. Plenty of gulls were loafing around here as well and Allans well distributed loaf soon had them closing in around us. Amongst them was this stunning Lesser Black-back in full breeding plumage. Who says gulls are ugly?
A bit of excitement was the discovery of a ringed Herring Gull. Colour ringed on its left leg with a BTO ring on its right we were able to read some of the numbers and hopefully trace the origins of this bird. See below. With Allan calling it a day, after realisng there was no more tea left in my flask, he left me to scan the seas for a further hour! Not much moving but a few Common Scoter, a single Great-crested Grebe and two adult Kittiwakes.

Ringed Herring Gull - colour ring 'WBOK'>
BTO ring numbers ......0990...

My weekend strolls around Stanney Woods with Molly are always apleasure if not full of suprises. The Marsh Tits are singing in Stanney but a suprise did come today in the form of a singing Chiffchaff in Rivacre. An early migrant or a wintering bird enjoying the sunshine................