31 May 2011

Another fine wader at Frodsham.

Another fine bird found by Frank Duff on Frodsham No. 6 lagoon. A cracking summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper.

30 May 2011

Pond raider!

Caught this Grey Heron in the act of raiding a neighbours garden pond today! We often see Herons fishing in the pond by the house early morning but this was midday and brazenly sat on the roof eyeing up the golden delights of the pond below.

The weekend started well with a trip across the border into N Wales where I was allowed to assist in the ringing of Pied Flycatcher, Redstart & Blue Tit pullus in boxes as part of an long term study on the survival rates of adults. It was nice to see (and hear) birds in this area of upland woodland were doing so well with a calling Cuckoo providing an almost constant backdrop to the singing of Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts. An amazing 20 + pairs of Pied Flycatchers and 3 pairs of Redstarts nest at this site with many being in boxes. A great day out.

Sunday, by contrast, was less pleasant (weather wise) with Hilbre still suffering from persistent winds from the north and west. Not a single migrant passerine was seen on the ground but a seawatch was rewarded with good numbers of Gannets, Manx Shearwaters, Guillemots and a handful of Arctic Skuas - we also had one very small dainty unidentified Skua to far out to identify with any confidence but with a Long-tailed Skua being seen a bit further up the coast.................................

The leucistic Moorhen appears to be sitting on eggs so it'll be interesting to see what colour the youngsters turn out to be.

It seems Manchester United fans have a complete sense of humour failure when the boots on the other foot. Having put up with a constant stream of jokes and texts when their team managed to surpass Liverpools total of 18 league titles the dummies were well and truly spat out when reminded Liverpool had 5 Champions Leauge wins to their credit whilst Utd still only have 3. Oh dear- if you can't take it don't dish it out. Its a shame an English team didn't win but Barcelona comprehensively outplayed Utd causing some impartial commentators to comment that 19 wasn't only the nuumber of league titles Utd had won but the number of times they touched the ball against the greatest European team seemingly ever assembled.

27 May 2011

Breeding in full swing.

An update on the breeding garden birds:

The Wrens are feeding young in the nest they've built for the second year running in a woven 'roosting pouch' beneath the porch.

The Blackbirds in the Laurel hedge have been predated and are currently building a new the same hedge.

Out of 5 nest boxes not one is occupied for the first time for many years!

The Dunnocks whose nest in the hawthorn hedge was predated are still around but I've no idea where they're nesting.

Collared Doves are attempting to nest again in the top of a conifer after the recent high winds blew the first nest (and eggs) down.

The Moorhens are incubating their second clutch and 4 from the original 7 from the first brood still survive although they're getting chased by the parent birds and will probably soon be forced to leave.

Apart from that the cold windy weather has but a downer on much else although a quick trip to the South Road pond at the bottom end of Ellesmere Port was enlivened by a female Gadwall with 6 young. Five Tufted Duck were also present along with 2 broods of Mallards, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and singing male Reed Bunting.

The only other birds of note this week have been two Hobby's - one near the house and one at the top of the Wirral.

Singing male Linnet - Hilbre.

22 May 2011

The end of the World.

So it was with great trepidation we all waited for 6 pm when it had been prophesised by a self proclaimed American prophet that the World would end - the righteous would go straight to heaven leaving the rest of us to our fate as the apocalpys took place. Shit! Maybe it had happended. Was this an angel I saw swimming before my bleary eyes?

Fortunately not - only the local leucistic Moorhen looking particularly dazzling in the early morning light before making the trip to Hilbre.  Memo to self - stay off the loopy juice cider the night before!

Although the wind had shifted from a stubborn westerly to south easterly overnight not many migrants were expected or had materialised. Star bird (the only bird) was this Spotted Flycatcher.

Always fantastic birds to see this one was a delight on a blustery and ootherwise migrant free day.

More locally I've seen the first local Hobby of the year and a Cuckoo put in an increasingly rare appearance along the Gowy water meadows.

19 May 2011

Close relations.

Out and about last night enjoying the evening sunshine along the Shropshire Union Canal overlooking the Gowy Water Meadows. Plenty of activity both mammalian and avian and  I managed these photo's of two closely related pairs of species.

The Hare was really nice to see - they're quite scarce around my immediate area although commoner towards the Dee Estuary.

The Mistle Thrush was particularly scruffy looking and had obviously been reading Svensson as it was next seen checking for a cloacal protuberance!

A recent rip to Hilbre was rewarded with proof of breeding for both Robin and Dunnock - a fairly recent phenomonen after being lost as breeding species for awhile.

18 May 2011

Art versus extinction.

All for a good cause:


16 May 2011 -- GHOSTS OF GONE BIRDS is a travelling multi-media art exhibition designed to raise a creative army for conservation.

Its first stop will be in Liverpool on May 19-20th at the Liverpool School of Art & Design where there will be a Ghosts Gallery Space featuring brand new work by Ralph Steadman, Sir Peter Blake, Rob Ryan, Billy Childish, Desmond Morris, Pete Fowler, Charming Baker, Kai and Sunny, Rebecca Jewell, Olly and Suzi, Dafila Scott and Jamie Hewlett - to name just a few.

Each artist has been asked to adopt a different extinct species of bird and breathe life back into it through their art.   There will be paintings, sketches, sculptures, woodcuts, poems and installation pieces all dedicated to resurrecting such lost creatures as the Red Moustached Fruit Dove, the Mysterious Starling and Reunion Owl.

The exhibition will also feature talks by artists, writers and scientists; as well as a live performance of new music especially written for the project by Jimi Goodwin of Doves on Friday, 20 May.

GHOSTS OF GONE BIRDS will then migrate south, stopping off at the Port Elliot Festival in July; The Bird Fair in August and then take up a three week residency at the Rochelle School Gallery in Shoreditch in November.

THE GHOSTS OF GONE BIRDS project has been created to get people thinking about the diverse range of birds that have already been lost to extinction– and introduce them to the work being done by BirdLife International and the RSPB to stop any more species joining them.

The shows will help raise funds for the frontline conservation projects being carried out by both organisations around the world to protect birds from the myriad threats endangering their continued existence.

GHOSTS OF GONE BIRDS is being jointly run by documentary film-maker/art collector Ceri Levy and creative director Chris Aldhous of ideas agency GOODPILOT.

For further information please contact:

Ceri Levy on 07885 755733

16 May 2011

Citrine Wagtrail

Same place, three years later.........................

15 May 2011

Red letter day!

What a fantastic day in Cheshire and Wirral today! Despite the persistent rain that deterred many from going out some hardier souls persisted. First up was a text from Frank to say there was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Frodsham No. 6 - a Cheshire tick for me. Off I trundled only to arrive in the middle of a deluge. The bird was found by three guys who weren't sure what it was but luckily Frank was on hand to clinch the i.d.

Unfortunately the weather and distance from the bird meant photo's were strictly of the ' record shot ' genera only.

Whilst at Frodsham Steve rang me to say Colin Wells had found a Broad-billled Sandpiper at Meols but that it had flown off with Dunlin. I didn't think anymore about it until, whilst out walking Molly, Allan texted to say he'd relocated it but that it had flown again but was still in the same general area. Changing the plans I had at home I grabbed the camera and set off! I'd only been at the site less than a couple of minutes before Mal Sarjeant relocated it. magic stuff. Cheshire No. 2 for the day.

Just a shame that poxy male Citirne Wagtail at RSPB Conwy didn't decide to turn up on the paddocks by Leasowe Lighthouse.

Just to prove there were some decent photographs to be had today and to show how bad the weather was here's a selection of Yellow Wagtail photo's from Frodsham. Whilst driving away fro mthe Buff-breasted Sandpiper this stonking bird flew up on the fence in front of the Landrover. I'm sure he's looking at the rain in the first one and saying 'why the fek didn't I stay in Africa?'

12 May 2011

Hilbre breakfast.

Not mine but this Dunlin!
Spent the night on Hilbre last night as the early morning tide meant I wouldn't have been able to get on to check for migrants at first light. Up at 04.45 this morning it soon became apparent the westerlies had scuppered any chance of any new migrants dropping in but the sight of several hundred Gannets battling their way out of the bay against the wind along with good numbers of Guillemots heading the same way was quite a spectacle.

Good numbers of Dunlin (2000+) & Ringed Plover (100+) roosting south of Middle Eye including this individual proving the point the early bird does get the worm.

Quite a bit of activity on the pager over the last week with the mega alert going off 4 times:
Audouin's Gull, Calandra Lark & Great Snipe - I'm chilled. But Rock Bunting....................
Unfortunately it was seen four days ago and not since.

10 May 2011

Red-rumped Swallow, Leasowe

Same place same bird? Its the third time in 5 years there has been a Red-rumped Swallow around the pony paddocks near Leasowe Lighthouse. This time it was found by John Coup and I managed to get down after work. With Molly huffing and puffing behind me I made quick time from the lighthouse car park to the furthest kissing gate just in time to see the bird disappear distantly over houses. Several brief views later  I finally picked the bird up flying back in from my left and the small group of birders and photographers all enjoyed good views.