29 Feb 2012

Costa Del Parkgate.

Managed a quick trip to Parkgate on Sunday to try and catch up with the Spoonbill that's taken up temporary residence. The mild weather coupled with Spoonbill, Great White & Little Egret made it seem more like the Med than N W UK on a February's day!

Distant shot of Great White Egret hunting on the marsh 

The Spoonbill was getting 'buzzed' by Black-headed Gulls and adopted this aggressive stance snapping at them with its 'spoon'.

26 Feb 2012

First lifer of the year.

Notging common about this one! A Common Yellowthroat was discovered in S Wales whilst I was in Australia and unbeleivably it stayed until I got back. With jet lag working better than the alarm I was up at 03.00 Saturday and headed off down the M6 to meet with Phil Lockyer near Stoke as he'd kindly offered me a lift!

This was only the 9th UK record of this cracking little American passerine and the first twitchable one in the UK since one on the Scilly's in 1997.

An uneventful journey saw us on site around 8.30 and after hearing the bird call several times we eventually saw it well over a period of an hour but not well enough to photograph. It spent most of its time skulking in a bramble bush where it could be seen moving around and occasionally making a quick foray out in to the open.

More photogenic was a nearby male Lesser Scaup whilst to complete a good day we managed to home in on three Smew  -a drake and two redheads - near Barton Under Needwood as we dropped another traveller (Sean Cole) off home.

Getting home around 17.30 completely knackered I soon fell asleep on the couch!.

24 Feb 2012

Monochrome Australian birds.

A bit of a theme developing with photo's of common Australian garden birds - Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark & Willy Wagtail (seriously!)

Just to break up the monochrome - Eastern Rosella.

18 Feb 2012


Away from the British winter and visiting my brand new Granddaughteer in Australia
The bird life is amazing and here's a taster of a fairly local garden bird. Superb Fairy Wren. What a stunner.

Besides these little gems we're also getting plenty of Galah's, Kookaburra's, Red-rumped Parrot's & Eastern Rosella's.

The Galah's (above) are right noisy buggers and can be seen everywhere.

10 Feb 2012

A date with a gorgeous red head......

Smew are generally a scarce bird in Cheshire and we normally only get the odd bird each winter. When news broke yesterday that a Redhead was on Tatton Mere I planned to try and get therre today. With no news forthcoming I picked up Groucho and we headed the short distnace down the back roads to Tatton Park where we the mere froze napart from one end. Despite searching in the bitterly cold wind and snow flurries we initially didn't spot it until it flew out of some juncus into the middle of the mere before coming back towards us and hauling out on the ice. Gorgeous!

As well as the Smew another red-head was frequenting the same patch of water. Just a shame the light was so poor.

9 Feb 2012

Scenes from a cold Island!

Bitterly cold on Hilbre with icicles hanging off the cliffs on the east side. The garden is full of birds with my first Lesser Redpoll of the year scrapping with the bigger finches for a place on the feeders and at least 6 Blackbirds feeding on spilt seed. A female Blackcap is also a regular to the feeding station but its been to cold to put any nets up. Its so cold the local cats can't even scrape a hole to shit in the garden.

Wader numbers are on the increase with good numbers of Grey Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin being recorded o nthe East Hoyle Bank. Niffy Bay is the preferred roosting place on Hilbre at the moment and up to 20 Purple Sandpiper have been congregating on the wall below the Buoy Masters Store.

Times are tough and even the Carrion Crows can't always be bothered to fly to far when theres food to be had.

Up to 20 Goldeneye have been visiting West Kirby Marine Lake when not disturbed by windsurfers.

Finally, heres a couple from another bitterly cold day a couple of weeks back - at least it wasn't sleeting or raining!

5 Feb 2012

Gull watching.

I spent a couple of hours Friday afternoon gull watching at Gowy. As usual there were plenty of birds around but unfortunately they were at least three fields away from where I was parked on the lane. Coupled with the heat haze this made for difficult viewing and although I'm pretty certain I picked out the juvenile Iceland Gull again I only got it in flight.

Even at this distance the gulls are easily spooked and someone walking a dog along the Gowy brook put the whole lot up. Get out the Landrover and they're gone......It's a very difficult site to work compared to Richmond Bank and the only way to get any closer is to get a hide and sit it out for a few hours. Occasionally I get lucky and they roost closer.

By contrast to Fridays sunshine Saturday was dull, grey and bitterly cold. A trip to Hilbre was enlivened by the number of Sanderling feeding on the edge of the gutter as we followed the tide out but then the weather really closed in. Rain froze instantly in sheets of ice that covered the Obs windows and the Landrover. The usual suspects were around though with Purple Sandpipers at the north end and a Peregrine hunting down the west side.

A good cooked breakfast soon banished the chills and a tot of malt in our mugs of tea set us up for an afternoon watching the rugby!

1 Feb 2012

Nearly Glossy Ibis.

Like buses these are in Cheshire - you wait for ages for one and then another two turn up in quick succession. Following on from my long awaited 'first' for Cheshire in 2008 (this was the Southport bird that came south for a few days break) another turned up last year at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB  (but was elusive and played hard to get) and this was quickly followed by another at Sandbach Flashes this year. This bird was initially very elusive but seems to have got into a regular routine but I resisted the temptation until the sun came out!

Another good local bird(s) this morning were a group of  3 Crossbills in the Scots pines on Eastham golf course.