Saturday, 19 April 2014

Fairfield Horseshoe

Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, we headed up to the Lake District today and walked the spectacular Fairfield Horseshoe, a round walk from Ambleside of just over 11 miles and taking us to a height of 2864ft.

The views were spectacular, to the east High Street, to the north Helvelyn, and to the west Conniston Old Man and Scafell Pikes. It was a bit early for most of the migrants to be back, but Tree Pipit was new for the year, and there were a few Wheatears and Swallows.

Year: 207 (Tree Pipit)

Looking towards High Street.


Dollywagon Pike and Helvelyn.

Tree Pipit.

Eccleston Mere

Just a quick walk around the Mere this morning. The only new arrival was a singing Whitethroat in the hedge just after the yacht club. Otherwise plenty of Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Hoopoe part 2

We headed back to Kirkham this evening for a second look at the Hoopoe. For a long time it looked like the difficulties associated with viewing the bird in the garden in Cross Lane would prove too much, and we couldn't relocate the bird. However, eventually we found it in a horse field 100m west of the garden, and here it showed much better than it had done this morning, and probably better than it could ever do in the garden.

Rainford Mosslands

Merlin 1 female Dairy Farm Road
Whitethroat 1 singing Dairy Farm Road
Yellow Wagtail 2 males Dairy Farm Road
Wheatear 2 Dairy Farm Road, 2 Old Coach Road, 2 Rainford bypass
Corn Bunting 1 Dairy Farm Road


Hoopoe, a new "birds seen from the roof of the car" tick

Hoopoe 1
Tree Sparrow 10
Swallow 2

Year: 206 (Hoopoe); Birds Seen From the Roof of the Car: 1 (Hoopoe)

The Hoopoe has been on the lawn at Cross Lane House, Treales near Kirkham for four days now. As you would expect it's a great bird, but very difficult to see let alone photograph. I was on site for about 90 minutes, and all of that time it was on the lawn, but only occasionally showing itself. In order to get the photos below, I had to stand on the roof of my car!

Eccleston Mere

Willow Warbler 5 singing
Blackcap 4 singing
Mute Swan 2 adults

I found this huge swan mussel at Eccleston Mere this morning. In all my years of visiting the mere, I've never seen one this big before. My binoculars are 18cm (7") long!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Common Sandpiper 2
Little Ringed Plover 10
Yellow Wagtail 2
White Wagtail 15
Wigeon 1 male
Sand Martin 50
Swallow 20

Year 205: (Common Sandpiper)

Eccleston Mere

Grasshopper Warbler 1 reeling in second hedge on the right from the yacht club
House Martin 1
Sand Martin 20
Swallow 15
Blackcap 5 singing
Willow Warbler 5 singing
Chiffchaff 4 singing
Gadwall 4 (2 males, 3 females)
Mandarin 2 (male & female)

Year 204: (Grasshopper Warbler, House Martin)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Appleton Reservoir

Whitethroat 1 singing
Sand Martin 2
Willow Warbler 5 singing
Mute Swan 4 adults

Year 202: (Whitethroat)

Eccleston Mere

Swallow 2
Mute Swan 2 ads
Blackcap 4 singing
Willow Warbler 5 singing
Chiffchaff 3 singing

A happy event at the Grebe nest

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Brandon Marshes, Warwickshire

Sedge Warbler 1 singing
Blackcap 30 singing
Little Ringed Plover 1
Yellow Wagtail 1
Sand Martin 2

Also today, one Grass Snake.

Year 2014: 201 (Sedge Warbler)

It's been a really slow year for migrants, where on Earth are all of the hirundines?

Brandon Marshes.


Male and female Shoveler. I used to think that the females were drab compared to the males, but actually it's a pretty smart bird. Nice bill!

Other migrants might be thin on the ground, but Blackcaps are everywhere.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Yellow-browed Warbler, Uffmoor Wood, Worcestershire

Yellow-browed Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 4 singing
Willow Warbler a few singing

Year 200 (Yellow-browed Warbler)

I suppose it's possible that Yellow-browed Warbler has been my 200th year tick in the past, but certainly not on 14th April! It showed well and called a lot in the early morning sunlight but always just for a second before flitting to the next branch, making photography extremely diffficult.

Now I know why it's called a leaf warbler.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Crag Martin and Tawny Pipit, Flamborough Head

Crag Martin 1
Tawny Pipit 1
Sand Martin 1
Gannets many

UK Life: 398 (Crag Martin), Year 2014: 199 (Crag Martin, Tawny Pipit)

An unbelievable day of excitement, Ray, Dave and I arrived at Flamborough Head at 9:15am in the rather optimistic hope that the Crag Martin which had been found yesterday morning but which had disappeared at lunchtime the same day would return, or at least be refound somewhere close by. However by 1:30pm it had become clear that the bird was not going to be refound, and we decided to head south towards Spurn Point, spurred on by the news of a Serin near the bird observatory there.

Not that the morning had been wasted, we spent the first hour or so watching a fabulous Tawny Pipit, only my second in the UK, and then we moved on to Bempton Cliffs where we had the usual stunning views of the vast seabird colony.

However by about 2pm we had travelled 20 miles or so towards Spurn when news broke that against all the odds, the Crag Martin had indeed been relocated, and suddenly all thoughts of Serin evaporated and we turned the car around and headed back to North Landing at Flamborough Head.

After a desperate dash on foot of over 3/4 mile  from an apparently ill chosen car park, following the scenic but knackering cliff top footpath, we finally came upon the bird flying around Thornwick Bay. Out of breath we collapsed on the bank at the top of the cliffs and found that we didn't even need our binoculars, with the bird showing incredibly well, at times down to just three or four meters. It was now a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Then after about 45 minutes it disappeared south, before being relocated again at North Landing, in fact right in front of where I had parked the car! We watched it for another hour or so, before retiring to the nearby pub, where occasionally we could still catch a glimpse of the bird when it cleared to top of the cliffs! Not a bad pub tick.

Crag Martin photos

St Helens birders in action, trying to mingle with the crowd but clearly identifiable by the bald heads (Photo: R Baines).

North Landing Flamborough Head.

Tawny Pipit photos

Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire

Tree Sparrow 20
Corn Bunting 1 singing

Year 197 (Gannet, Razorbill, Puffin)

Gannets on the nest. Bempton Cliffs is the only English Gannet colony and the only UK mainland colony. When I first went over 30 years ago, there were about 400 pairs. There are clearly a lot more than that now, and according to a warden there are now 10,000 pairs, but there didn't seem that many to me.

Guillemots and a single bridled Guillemot.

Kittiewakes and Guillemots.

Puffins (photographed at Flamborough Head).


Tree Sparrows were nesting in the roof of the RSPB visitor centre.