Friday, 24 April 2015

Carr Lane Pools, Hale

Wood sandpiper 1
Blue-headed wagtail 1 m
Yellow wagtail 8
White wagtail 3
Dunlin 15
Ringed plover 3
Black-tailed godwit 50
Redshank 10
Common sandpiper 1

I great early evening visit to these very impressive pools.

Year: 192 (Wood sandpiper, Blue-headed wagtail (I know & I don't care!)).

Definately a record shot of the spectacular blue-headed wagtail. Still, I'm happy with it.

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Common sandpiper 1
Sand martin 20
Swallow 10
Whitethroat 1 singing m

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Oystercatcher 1
Redshank 1
Yellow wagtail 2

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Green woodpecker 1
Common sandpiper 1
Whitethroat 1 singing m

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Yellow wagtail 1
Green sandpiper 1
Black-tailed godwit 1
Little ringed plover 1
Common sandpiper 1
Redshank 2
Grey partridge 2

Year: 190 (Yellow wagtail)

Not a bad 20 minute stop on my way to work.

Godwit, green sandpiper, redshank.

Yellow wagtail.Quite an interesting photo of it flying up from the emergent willowherb.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Elton Reservoir

At Elton Reservoir this afternoon, five adult little gulls, female long-tailed duck, common tern, sedge warbler and several whitethroats. The long staying long-tailed duck is now approaching summer plumage.

Year: 189 (Whitethroat, sedge warbler)

Four of the five little gulls.

Long-tailed duck.

Sedge warbler

Common Sandpiper and Field Woodrush

Luzula campestris.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Black-tailed godwit 1
Little ringed plover 2
Redshank 2

Monday, 20 April 2015

Well, that's it then

After 53 years (nearly!) of living in St Helens I've finally moved and now live in Lowton. Highlights of my career in St Helens include finding an American black tern at Eccleston Mere, four common cranes over Berrington's Lane and a Montagu's harrier over Reed's Moss. It was fun, but it's time to move on. The blog will continue pretty much as normal, but since I'm now within walking distance of Pennington Flash, and not far from what's left of Houghton Green Flash, it's likely to be dominated by these places rather than the likes of Eccleston Mere.

Pennington Flash

Five black-necked grebes on the flash today, at the western Slag Lane end. Four of them were in summer plumage, but the fifth was in non-breeding plumage. Also today, two singing reed warblers and a common tern.

Year: 187 (Black-necked grebe, reed warbler).

Summer plumage black-necked grebe.

The non-breeding bird stayed close to the others but never quite seemed part of the group.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Pennington Flash

After three solid days of moving house I managed a quick look around my new "patch" this evening and found my first common terns of the year.

Year: 185 (Common tern)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Observing Ring Ouzels

There's been a large influx of ring ouzels this spring, with small flocks at many locations, for example 20 on the Great Orme, Llandudno a week or so ago. When I heard of 11 on Pendle Hill this morning, not far from where I was working, it seemed a good opportunity to call in on my way home to join in with the "Ring ouzel experience"!

Of course you don't just "call in" at Pendle Hill, there's the small matter of climbing it as well, but though it can be tough when you're carrying a scope, tripod and camera, the difficulties are over  exaggerated I think. In any case, personally I wouldn't dream of carrying a scope and tripod up Pendle Hill, why make life difficult I say! Binoculars and my small camera are all I take.....

I did go to the summit just for a quick look around (no sign of any dotterel yet), but most of the action was in a field on the opposite side of the track to the land slip. There were ring ouzels aplenty, and in the end I counted at least 11, as well as a few wheatears. They were quite a varied bunch, and it was interesting to see so many together and be able to compare them.

Year: 184 (Ring ouzel). Actually these on Pendle Hill were not my first this year. I found one near my car as I was packing up to leave the job.

A nice male but not as scaley as some males and where is the pale panel in the wing? This just looks like a blackbird with a white crescent.

Same bird as above.

A dark grey and very scaley looking young female.

An adult female. Dark grey not black like the male, and not brown like a female blackbird.

Male (above) with female (below), This looks a different male than the first two photos,  it doesn't have a particularly pale wing panel, but it does look a bit more scaley underneath.

Two males. The one above has a paler wing panel, and perhaps also white speckling on its head? Could be a trick of the photo I suppose.

Male with pale wing panel and scaley flanks.

Male and female

A nice patch of Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus which just happens to have a male wheatear standing on it!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Common sandpiper 1
House martin 1
Sand martin 20
Swallow 10
Tufted duck 16

Monday, 13 April 2015

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Little ringed plover 4
White wagtail 1

White wagtail

Little ringed plover

Pied wagtail

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Common sandpiper 3
Blackcap 1 m
Swallow 15
House martin 4
Sand martin 30
Willow warbler 10 singing

Year: 183 (Common sandpiper)

Common sandpiper

Swallows and sand martins.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Gull fest at Seaforth

Despite the dire conditions, rain and strong, chilly winds we had a great couple of hours at Seaforth where we saw the New Brighton laughing gull which has recently taken to roosting on the causeway at Seaforth, though often still returning to the marina at New Brighton. While we were in the hide a huge 1st winter glaucous gull dropped in, while at the other end of the size scale, up to four little gulls were picking insects off the water. Also here a female scaup and a fly over sanderling.

Year 182: (Little gull, scaup) This time last year I was on 199.

Laughing gull. Interestingly, just like at New Brighton, it completely ignored the majority of other gulls at Seaforth, prefering to spend its time with the waders.

Glaucous gull.

Little gull.

Female scaup with female pochard.

Burton Mere Wetlands

House martin 1
Sand martin 4
Swallow 1
Egyptian goose 2
Little ringed plover 1
Spotted redshank 8 (in partial summer plumage)
Dunlin 5

Year 180: (House martin, Egyptian goose)

Friday, 10 April 2015


Mistletoe on hawthorn, near Ludlow. I don't know of it from anywhere in the North West, but there was quite a lot of it on my journey home between Hereford and Shrewsbury.

Mistletoe isn't a climber like ivy, it's parasitic and penetrates the host, growing inside it absorbing nutrients.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

More from Glamorgan and a Bonaparte's Gull

I spent most of today surveying for goshawk in a Welsh valley, but when the surveying was done, I went back to Cardiff Bay to see if I could find the Bonaparte's gull that had been reported again yesterday.

It was another day of bright blue skies and warm sunshine in South Wales, and on a day like this, sitting on top of a hill and overlooking the valley, my past life of sitting in an office and staring at a computer screen and worrying about code and databases and other I.T. irrelavances seemed a million miles away. I'd recommend a career change to anybody!

After a slow start, I finally spotted a huge grey looking raptor, a female goshawk. I saw it through the telescope flying through the woods at speed before perching briefly in a pine and then shooting off again. Only a brief view but a start. Eventually I managed several views of individual birds, but best of all I had excellent scope views of a pair displaying. I've seen them closer in the past but I don't think I've ever seen them quite so well. The female was awesome!

Then it was on to Cardiff Bay. The Bonaparte's gull had been seen at Cardiff Bay Wetlands NR yesterday, but I decided to start off on the other side of the bay, at Prospect Place, because I reasoned that the light would be better, but also because you get a great view of the bay and Cardiff from here. My luck was in, I got straight onto the bird, the only adult black-headed type that I could see, I watched it as it hawked for insects over the water. My 5th Bonaparte's gull in the UK and my second at Cardiff.

Finally I headed to Taff's Mead Emabankment near the centre of the city to look for an Iceland gull which has been seen almost daily recently, but this proved one bird too far and I had to come away disappointed, but not before I had seen two Ravens on the roof of the Millennium Stadium.

Year: 178 (Goshawk, Bonaparte's gull)

Bonaparte's gull. Prior to yesterday it had been missing for a few days and I thought it had gone, so I was delighted to catch up with it today.

Picking insects of the water. I hope it's sticking to the speed limit!


Millennium Stadium ravens.

Ash tree in flower.

Puple moor grass Molinia caerulea. In summer this species does indeed look purple, but these are last years dead bits which give the moor its characteristic white appearance at this time of year.

Displaying siskin.