Saturday, 29 August 2015

Ribble Marshes

We spent the day on the Ribble mainly hoping to see the spoonbills which have been in the area recently. Most of our day was at Hesketh Out Marsh, but we also took in Banks Marsh south from Old Hollow (Baxters) Farm and finally Crossens Marsh and Marshside. No sign of the spoonbills anywhere, goodness knows where they hide themselves, but I suppose it is a big estuary.

At Hesketh Out Marsh we saw seven species of raptor, hobby, three marsh harriers, peregrine, two merlins, two buzzards, sparrowhawk and kestrel. Also three yellow wagtails, at least 10 greenshanks, 30 black-tailed godwits and a couple of common sandpipers.

Black-tailed godwits.

Hesketh Out Marsh

Whilst hanging out the washing this morning.....

A hobby flew over, quite low down, from the direction of Pennington Flash!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Pennington Flash

The juvenile black tern was still hawking for insects over the eastern end of the flash this evening, at times showing very well from the car park, but it also spent a lot of time over in the south east corner. It was persued by black-headed gulls for most of the time, I'm not really sure why since it's not eating anything which the gull can steal.

Pale Common Buzzard

This very pale juvenile common buzzard set off a few alarm bells when I first saw it  near Carr Lane Pools at Hale today.

A round up of the week from Appleton Reservoir

Bird numbers are starting to grow at the reservoir, with around 14 gadwall, 30 tufted ducks, 80 coot and now seven little grebes (five adults and two juveniles). Dragonflies are still out in good numbers, with four or five ruddy darters seen on each visit and similar numbers of common darters. Two or three Emperors were seen, at least two brown hawkers and one migrant hawker. Butterflies include small copper.

Ruddy darter.

Ruddy darter.

Common darter.

Common blue damselfly.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Pennington Flash

A juvenile black tern was at the eastern end of the flash this evening, mainly in the area where the lesser scaup spent a lot of time two years ago, but occasionally right off the main car park. Very difficult to photograph in the bright evening sunlight and constantly moving and difficult to focus on, but I'm pleased enough we these.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Pennington Flash

The garganey was showing well from the Teal hide this evening, but otherwise it was fairly quiet at the Flash.

Mallard, shoveler, garganey and teal.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Lesser Yellowlegs, Conder Green

A lesser yellowlegs was found at Conder Green near Glasson Dock this morning, so after a short stint (ha!) at Hesketh Out Marsh we decided to head north. We arrived at about 14:00 and had decent views of the bird for about 20 minutes, albeit against the sun, until the yellowlegs and all of the other waders were spooked by something and flew off onto the Lune. It was relocated on the Conder at about 16:40, but by that time it wasn't the sun that was the problem it was torrential rain, thunder and lightening and blackness like it was the middle of the night! By this time though we had moved to Glasson Dock in search of a spoonbill, but like yesterday at Hesketh Out Marsh, we failed.

Year: 245 (Lesser yellowlegs)

If the bird is too far away to get a decent photo at least try to make a rubbish photo of the bird atmospheric and interesting!!! I have loads of atmospheric and interesting photos.....

Should we go back to the car?

No, it will pass over.

It's only a shower.....

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Capsian Gull, Ainsdale

We called in for another look at the Ainsdale Caspian gull today, and had even better views than last week. A magnificent bird.

While we were on the beach, a flock of nearly 100 summer plumage grey plover flew over the sea.

Hesketh Out Marsh

At Hesketh Out Marsh today, two juvenile little stints and a third bird which was the size of little stint but looked a bit odd, with no tramlines down its back, possibly a longer curved bill, a more upright stance and a distinct supercilium. Whilst the other two birds fed on the exposed mud in a typical little stint like way, the third bird ran around in the grass and was on a different pool, about 100m away from the others. Unfortunately we didn't see it long enough to be sure either way, it eventually disappeared into thee grass.....

Also today, marsh harrier, 3 greenshank and lots of little egrets.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Pennington Flash

In attrocious conditions, poor light and heavy drizzle, I at least managed to get a good look at the garganey which has been moving between Ramsdales and the Spit. Today it was feeding right in front of Ramsdales hide. Also from Ramsdales, two green sandpipers, though these were seen to fly off high shortly after I arrived. On the flash, at least 130 tufted ducks and two common terns.

Garganey. It's not just about the facial stripes, notice also the pale throat.

One for the unwary. A (possibly eclipse male?) teal with an eye stripe, but nowhere near as distinct as the garganey. Notice also the lack of a pale throat.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Quite a few dragonflies out at the reservoir today during my lunch break, most notably a few ruddy darters which were a new species at the site for me. Other species included a few brown hawkers, common darters and a single black-tailed skimmer. Fairly quiet for birds, about 30 tufted ducks, three little grebes and eight gadwall, the latter perhaps the precursor of a late summer build up similar to last year which peaked at 87 by mid-october.

Ruddy darter.

Common darter.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ainsdale dunes

It's my favourite time of year at Ainsdale, not just because of all of the summer plumage waders on the beach, but also because of the late summer flowers in the dune slacks. These are a couple of my favourites.

Field gentian.

Grass of Parnassus

Monday, 17 August 2015

Gone but not forgotten

So at last it appears that the Sabine's gull has gone. This bird has re-written the book when it comes to what to expect from a Sabine's gull. Click here to see a brief video of the bird and you'll hear it calling. Ten minutes after filming this the bird flew high and was not seen again. Hopefully it's found it's way to the coast and is now on its way south.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Caspian Gull, Ainsdale - a day at the seaside

I spent the day on Ainsdale beach, arriving at about 10.00 and not leaving until about 16:00. The main target was a Caspian gull which has been in the area for about five weeks. When I arrived it was still 3 hours off high tide and I hoped that the gulls which were spread far and wide would be pushed closer in on the rising tide and be easier to see. I seemed to walk for miles up and down the beach, mainly concentrating on the coastline between Ainsdale and Birkdale, but to no avail, I couldn't find the gull, and my attempts were not helped by a constant stream of people disturbing anything which landed. Dog walkers, families with young children, horse riders, horse drawn carriages, even two policemen on quad bikes, all splashing through the tideline or in the case of the kids even deliberately chasing the birds. It was a bit depressing at times and very hard work.

However it was worth it, and the further I got away from the car park and the ice cream vans, the less people there were and disturbance was reduced. There was a huge number of birds on the beach, thousands of waders including sanderling, bar-tailed godwits, grey plover, knot, ringed plover and dunlin, many in summer plumage, and there were lots of sandwich terns, at least 500 I would say. Then suddenly the Sandwich terns went up, and looking skywards I could see a small silhoutte which was unmistakably a female or juvenile marsh harrier, in off the sea. It disappeared eastwards over the dunes.

By this time high tide had been and gone, and sand banks were beginning to become exposed again. There had been a flock of large gulls sitting on the water over the tide presumably to avoid the disturbance, and now these began to come ashore. I waited patiently, convinced that the Caspian gull would yet make an appearance. Finally I scanned the water for the umpteeenth time and there it was, a young gull with a white head and stonking great bill! Surely this was it! I moved closer, fired off a few photos, then closer still. I had no doubts in my mind now, this was a classic Caspian. Then suddenly it flew a short distance and landed on the sand. I was able to approach quite close and get some better photos. This was my first Caspian gull in the North West. The gull fest continues!

There's gulls and there's gulls. That's a gull! It's a 2cy (2nd calendar year) bird also know as a 1st summer. Note the pure white head, nape and neck, the relatively long legs, long thick bill and pear shaped head.

Sanderling in the foreground.

Again, note the pure white head, nape and neck. In the end this was an easy bird to pick up, it stood out like a beacon on the beach.

White underwing, typical of Caspian gull.

Marsh harrier.

Sandwich terns.

Masses of waders.