Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Eccleston Mere



Tufted Duck 130
Pochard 14
Gadwall 2
Snipe 1 (in SW corner)
Goldeneye 4 (2mm, 2ff)
Goldfinch 40
Siskin 1

To try to put the Tuftie flock into perspective, in the past 20 years, according to my database, I have visited the mere on over 1400 occasions. My previous highest count for Tufted Duck was 30 birds! Todays flock is over four times that total, and is easily the biggest flock ever recorded in St Helens away from Prescot Reservoirs.

At first I thought that maybe it was the Prescot flock, displaced or on their holidays, but a quick phone call revealed that most of the Prescot flock was still present, though viewing was difficult in the fog. However, a fisherman who was just setting up his gear, told me that he had just been to White Mans Dam in Knowsley Safari Park, and it was completely iced over. This maybe the source of the Tufties - obviously they flew over the reservoirs, decided it looked a bit dodgy, and carried on to civilisation and the comfort of Eccleston Mere. If only they could convince the Great Northern to do the same. About 30% ice cover of the mere today.


Monday, 29 December 2008

Prescot Reservoirs

Great Northern Diver 1 (juv. still on PR4)
Tufted Duck 128
Ruddy Duck 27
Goldeneye 23
Pochard 11
Little Grebe 6

A few hundred gulls, but nothing of note.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Leighton Moss

Bittern 2 (from Public hide and Lower hide)
Goosander 2 males
Marsh Tit 2
Water Rail 1

Plus lots of ducks.

The Bitterns were both excellent views.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Eccleston Mere

Barn Owl 1 (hunting the large field adjacent to the mere at 16:45)
Water Rail 1 (in the ditch in the SW corner)
Goldeneye 1 m

Following hard on the heals of the Short-eared Owl on Christmas Eve, the Barn Owl was a great sight, and was my 156th species at the mere. No sign of the SEO today.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Richard's Pipit, Green-winged Teal and much more on Wirral

Richard's Pipit 1 (Parkgate Golf course)
Green-winged Teal 1 (drake, Inner Marsh Farm)
Hen Harrier 6 (2mm, 4ff at evening roost at Parkgate)
Short-eared Owl 8 (inc. 6 flying together at Parkgate at 11:30am)
Merlin 1 (Parkgate)
Spotted Redshank 1 (Inner Marsh Farm)
Water Rail 1 (Inner Marsh Farm)
Pale-bellied Brent Goose 101 (Hilbre Island)
Purple Sandpiper 16 (Hilbre Island)
Shag 1 (Hilbre Island)
Red-throated Diver 1 (Hilbre Island)

An absloutely amazing day. We just dropped on with everything! The Green-winged Teal hadn't been reported for a few days but we re-found it. The Richard's Pipit has been elusive and mobile, going missing for hours but it was on view as soon as we arrived at Parkgate and we watched it for 15 minutes in full view, with the sunlight right on it. Amazingly, this was my fourth Richard's Pipit on the Dee estuary alone!

The scenes at Parkgate were incredible. We had six Hen Harriers coming in to roost in the evening, with Short-eared Owls hunting the marsh in every direction. Eight owls is a conservative estimate, because we had six together at mid-day, and at least 8 scattered over the marsh in the evening. It could easily have been 10, 12 or 14 owls. In the background, almost unnoticed, Little Egrets streamed down the estuary in small groups, totalling maybe 30 birds, probably heading for their roost at Inner Marsh Farm.

Hilbre was crowded with tourists, but even so, the Brent Geese showed particulalry well, and it's a long time since I counted so many Purple Sandpipers on the island.

An amazing day!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Eccleston Mere

Willow Tit 1 (on feeders in SE corner)
Kingfisher 1
Goldeneye 1 m

Bat 1 (Pippistrelle?)

Merry Christmas to everybody!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Eccleston Mere

Short-eared Owl 1
Little Grebe 2

The Short-eared Owl was hunting the fields adjacent to the mere. It was my first Eccleston Mere tick for a long time, and brings my mere list to 155.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Rough-legged Buzzard, East Yorkshire


Millington Pastures

Rough-legged Buzzard 1 juv.
Red Kite 1
Buzzard 6
Stonechat 2 (m&f)
Marsh Tit 1

It took us about an hour to locate the Rough-legged Buzzard, but once we did we had excellent views of the bird, which was a juvenle. It had very white underparts and tail, with a black belly, legs and carple patches. A very distinctive bird. We saw it three times in flight, and a couple of times had it sitting in a tree. The best view of all was when we climbed the side of a hill, and it flew and soared at eye level and at quite close range for several minutes. My first RLB for 23 years!

Thanks to Marcus Conway for allowing me to use this remarkable photo of the bird. You can visit his website here.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Great Northern, Prescot Reservoirs

Great Northern Diver 1 (juv. on PR4)

Also 5 Ruddy Ducks. Didn't have time to stay long. Today was meant to be a DIY day, but you know how it is. You have to get to see these birds while they're available. Not much point going tomorrow when it's gone!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Twite, Birkdale Beach

Twite 55 (Birkdale Beach)

Great views of the Twite as they fed on the edge of the saltmarsh just north of the car park at Weld Road, Birkdale.

Rainford Mosslands

Merlin 2 (Dairy Farm Road / Inglenook Farm)
Lesser Redpoll 10 (Dairy Farm Road)
Fieldfare 100 (Dairy Farm Road)
Tree Sparrow 40 (Old Coach Road)
Bullfinch 1 (Old Coach Road)
Pink-footed Goose 600 (Old Coach Road)

The Merlins were so intent on chasing each other, twisting and turning, that they failed to notice that I was standing about 20 metres away from them. My 5th and 6th Merlins on the mosslands this year.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Moore

Iceland Gull 1 (1st winter on Birchwood Pool)
Yellow-legged Gull 1 (adult on Birchwood Pool)

Despite the fact that it was apparently much quieter today than is usual on Saturday, there were still a lot of gulls on the water. We spent about two and a half hours in the hide, without seeing anything unusual, until at last the Iceland Gull flew in and almost immediately we also saw the Yellow-legged Gull.

For those people who don't know the set up at Moore, if you want to see the gulls, you need to go when the nearby tip is open, either on a weekday or Saturday morning.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Moore, Marshside, Martin Mere

Bittern 1 (Moore)
Tawny Owl 1 (Moore)
Glossy Ibis 1 (Marshside)
Hen Harrier 1 male (Marshside)
White-fronted Goose 2 (Marshside)
Little Egret 3 (Marshside)
Barn Owl 3 (Martin Mere)

We started our day at Moore Nature Reserve near Warrington. This is an excellent reserve which has really developed well since I first visited the place in 1983 (25 years ago!). The main reason for our visit was to try to catch up with some of the interesting gulls which frequent the place these days in winter, and especially Caspian Gull, which apparently was seen as recently as yesterday. Needless to say we didn't see anything other than the common species. (Note to self: next time you go looking for a difficult to identify bird, try to at least have an idea of the identifcation features before you go).

Anyway, we were more than compensated by stunning views in full sunlight of one of the three Bitterns which have been in the eastern reedbed recently. It walked across the ice in front on us, and then stood there in full view for about 15 minutes. A cracking bird.

Then it was off to Marshside. We hoped to catch up with Glossy Ibis, which would be a Merseyside tick for one of us. The Ibis took a bit of finding, but eventually we saw it on the seaward side of the road near the Sandgrounders hide. Quite difficult to spot, because it's a much smaller bird than you think. Also in this area we had a spectacular male Hen Harrier and two (probably Greenland) White-fronted Geese. The grass is so long out there on the marsh, that only the heads of the geese were visible when they looked around. They were quite invisble when feeding.

Finally we headed off to Martin Mere, truth to tell, just to get a cup of tea, but we decided to have a quick look around in the fading light. Glad we did, because at the Ron Barker (Millers Bridge) hide, we saw three Barn Owls hunting. Not sure I've ever seen three birds together before.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Eccleston Mere

Willow Tit 1 (on garden feeder in SE corner).
Nuthatch 1
Goldeneye 11 (inc. 3 males)
Pochard 13
Tufted Duck 13
Mute Swan 3 (ad & 2 juvs)

Good to see a Willow Tit at the mere once again. It took me 15 years to see my first at the mere, but now I've seen them for at least 4 consecutive years.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Hilbre Island

Pale-bellied Brent Goose 119
Dark-bellied Brent Goose 3
Little Egret 2
Shag 1
Purple Sandpiper 5
Snow Bunting 5 (on Little Eye)

West Kirby Marine Lake

Great Northern Diver 1
Red-breasted Merganser 4

Monday, 17 November 2008

Black Vultures

The final day was spent in the mountains of the Sierra Aracena, another part of the Seirra Morena, north of and between Seville and Huelva. Much of the habitat was similar to the Sierra Norte, though there appeared to be more chestnut trees in the area. Here we had more success with amphibians, finding Bosca’s Newt and Southern Marbled Newt in a pond near Alajar. Many of the bird species were the same, with woodland birds abundant.

Once more, as the day drew on, the vultures took to the air, and this led to the highlight of the holiday. We parked near a view point, with the road heavily wooded on either side. If the birds had flown in any other direction, at best they would have been a glimpse of a second or two, at worst we would have missed them altogether. Fortunately they flew right down the road towards us, not more than twice the height of the trees, and with the sun right on them. They were huge birds, like giant eagles, with black, broad underwings with long fingers, and their pale feet stood out. Black Vultures, and a good enough view to age them as adults, we watched them for several minutes as they gained height and soared over us, and then suddenly we noticed more birds flying down the road to join them. These were clearly Griffons, and they provided excellent comparison. In the end there were about 10 birds soaring together, gaining height until they were little more than dots, but the Black Vultures always seemed to remain a little seperate from the rest, seemingly not wishing to associate with the riff raff.

The following day it was back to the airport at Faro, and the flight back to Liverpool, but not before we had one last look at the fabulous Caspian Terns at Praia de Faro. The holiday ended as it had begun, with some quality birding.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

250 Common Cranes, 9 Black Storks and 3 Black Shouldered Kites



















Sunday was the day I had waited for almost since we left the area last year, because we were to visit the northern marshes of the Coto Donana, an area unsurpassed for birding by any place I have ever visited in Europe. We started our day by driving along the Corredor Verde. Here we found Woodlarks, Cattle Egrets, a Black Stork, a Night Heron roost of at least 100 birds and a stunning Black-shouldered Kite, which performed admirably its hovering, paper plane like flight, before alighting in a tree to allow us excellent views.
Next we called in at Canada la Rianzula. The scene was breathtaking. At least 3000 Black-winged Stilts and 500 Greater Flamingoes were almost forgotten by the jaw dropping spectacle of at least 8000 Shoveler.
From here it was onto the rice paddies of Isla Mayor, an area so good that it was no surprise to find a flock of nine Black Storks in a field, and hundreds of White Storks. We turned right in the town, and headed for Casa Bombas, a large white pumping station which is passed by birders on their way to the Valverde centre. In this area we found three Hen Harriers, including a stunning male, several Marsh Harriers and our first Common Cranes of the day. Three were feeding in a field, and while we watched them, another nine flew directly over our heads. In the distance, at least 500 White storks were feeding.
We pushed on towards Veta Hornito. Suddenly I saw what I had been looking for. In the distance I could see large birds landing. We had found a Common Crane flock. We drove on for another mile or so, until eventually we were directly opposite them, just a couple of hundred yards away. I counted about 250 birds. They were clearly a little nervous about our presence, because occasionally the whole flock would raise their heads and look at us, but generally they seemed unconcerned and fed together like a flock of huge geese. Then suddenly and unexpectedly, first one bird, then two, then the whole flock took to the air with calls which very much resembled geese, and they flew away into the distance. An unforgetable experience.
By now, we had also started to see Great White Egrets, which totalled about six birds, and another couple of Black Storks. Finally, as dusk approached, we found another two Black-shouldered Kites. Once more Donana did not disappoint.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Black Vultures and Griffon Vultures

On Saturday, we decided to have a break from the coast, and head inland. Our destination was the beautiful mountain region of the Sierra Norte de Sevilla, which is part of the Sierra Morena and as the name implies, is just north of Seville. Our route took us through Constantina, Cazalla and across a mountain road to Santa Ollala del Cala. This was a completely different environment to the dry coastal area.

The rolling hills rise to a modest 900m, and there are many decidous trees, which provided a wonderful display of autumn colour, red, yellow and gold. We spent the morning searching these damp woodlands for amphibians, specifically Fire Salamader which has a separate race in these mountains, but in this our efforts were in vain. They did however yeald a good selection of woodland birds, notably many Nuthatches, Short-toed Treecreepers and three species of woodpecker, Green, Great Spotted and best of all, Lesser-spotted.

We were surprised to find many Crag Martins still in the area, flying around some of the larger old buildings, and once the temperatures rose in the afternoon, the vultures took to the air, with one flock alone containing over 100 birds, mainly Griffons, but also a few Black. In the foothills we came across a couple of Black-shouldered Kites.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Audouins Gulls and Lesser Kestrel

The following day we were up early and exploring the local area. Our first destination was Laguna de el Portil, about a mile from where we were staying. There were plenty of ducks on the lake, including Pintail and Shoveler, and also a few Black-winged Stilts and a couple of Black-necked Grebes, but overall, it was a bit disappointing. In the woodland we had Crested Tits, Black Redstarts and Green Woodpecker. We decided to head for our second destination of the day, the Marismas de Odiel, opposite the city of Huelva and about 10 miles from el Portil.

Dwarfed by it’s neighbour the Coto Donana, the Marismas de Odiel is still a large reserve, almost completely surrounding Huelva, and perhaps 10 miles long by as many wide. In summer, it is home to the largest Spoonbill colony in Europe, so a flock of 40 on the saltmarsh was not a great surprise. Also on a flooded area of saltmarsh, a flock of 40 Black-necked Grebes. Over the river, we saw three Ospreys in the air together, and later a fourth, and on the saltmarsh there were lots of Marsh Harriers and single female Hen Harrier.

On the west shore of the river Odiel the road leads on to a spit, miles long which leads to a lighthouse. As you head down the spit, the saltmarsh gives way to sand dunes, and here we found four Auduoins Gulls on the shore, (three adult and a 2nd winter), and six Stone Curlew in the dunes. A Lesser Kestrel hunted in the dunes, and was briefly joined by a common Kestrel for comparison. In the marsh next to the visitor centre, we found two Western Iberian Painted Frogs. Chiffchaffs were in every bush or tree, and this was a feature of the holiday, though we didn’t bother trying to work out if they were resident Iberian or wintering “British”.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Caspian Terns, Purple Gallinules and Black Stork


Myself and Mike Brown set off from Liverpool airport on Thursday 13th November for our now annual short break to south west Spain. This year however was slightly different. The withdrawal of Ryanair flights to Seville, forced us to fly with Easyjet to Faro in Portugal, and then drive across the border to our destination in Spain. We also decided to stay in a seaside town called el Portil, rather than our usual hotel in el Rocio, Donana. We took this decision because el Portil is quite central for many good birding areas, including Portugal, yet it still allowed us to visit the Coto Donana. Once again we were lucky with the weather during our stay, with sunny, cloudless skies, and temperatures which ranged from 26’C at midday to 1’C overnight. There was hardly a breath of wind after the gentle breeze of the first day. Dusk was at about 6:30pm Spanish time.


We touched down at Faro airport at 10:50am, and by 11:30 we had collected our baggage and the hire car and were on our way. The first stop was less than 10 minutes drive from the airport, just before the beach resort of Praia de Faro (which is clearly signposted as you leave the airport). I’ve always found this a good spot for Caspian Tern, and today was no exception, with three of these magnificent birds, with their ridiculously heavy carrot red bills flying around the bay, and plunge diving with incredible ferocity. Also here, a decent selection of waders, but mainly common stuff.


Then it was on to another favourite spot of ours, Quinta de Lago, a golf resort which has inexpicably been allowed to be built in the heart of the Ria Formosa nature reserve. This is a well known spot to many British birders. From the hide we had great views of at least five Purple Gallinules, one Glossy Ibis and 20 Red-crested Pochard. We ended the day at nearby Ludo salinas, which held hundreds of White Storks with a single, unexpected Black Stork, 60 Spoonbills and hundreds of ducks, mainly Wigeon. Also, lots of Azure-winged Magpies and Waxbills.


Sunday, 9 November 2008

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Hilbre Island

Pale-bellied Brent Goose 104+
Snow Bunting 2 (one on Middle Eye, one on Little Eye)
Purple Sandpiper 3
Eider 1 female
Shag 2

Common Seal 1
Grey Seal 200+


Sunday, 2 November 2008

Rainford Mosslands

Merlin 1 (Catchdale Moss - flew over East Lancs towards Moss Lane).
Pink-footed Goose 1000 (in small flocks mainly around Old Coach Road).
Barnacle Goose (1 with 300 Pink-feet near Woodside Farm, Old Coach Road).
Tree Sparrow 80+ (Old Coach Road, near Woodside Farm).

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Halloween Cackler and 11,000 Barnies


Caerlaverock WWT

Barnacle Goose 11,000
Cackling Canada Goose 1
Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1
Pink-footed Goose 100
Greylag Goose 30
Canada Goose 10
Curlew 200

The Cackler was a stunning bird. It was generally dark brown, with a dark breast, but in the good sunlight, you could occasionally see the purple sheen on its breast. It had no white collar, and the black neck blended into the breast, with no obvious line between the two, as there is in the paler Canadas. It had a gorgeously rounded head and a cute little bill, very like Ross's Goose. It was obviously smaller than the Barnacles.

The one problem with the bird is that it had a distinct chin stripe. All of the literature I have read says that Cacklers don't have chin stripes. Aluetian Cackler is said to have a chin stripe, but I would have expected it to be paler and have a white collar, so I'm not convinced it's Aluetian either. It was suggested that it might be a dark Richardsons, but I can't believe that.To call it a Richardson's just because it has a chin stripe is to ignore the fact that in all other respects it is a stunning, classic Cackler. I'd be interested in any opinions on this bird.

The photo shows a very small part of the flock. The Cackler was with this flock when it took off, but it looks like I missed it, because so far I haven't been able to find it in the picture.










Sunday, 26 October 2008

Great White Egret - Astley Green

Great White Egret 1

We had excellent views of the Great White Egret as it fed on worms in a flooded field at Astley Green. This was my third GWE in Greater Manchester, so it surely can't be long before we get one in St Helens.

Rainford Mosslands

Pink-footed Goose 4000 (1500 Kings Moss, 1000 Knowlsey Estate - East Lancs, 1000 Simonswood Moss, 300 Dairy Farm Road).

Tree Sparrow 40 (Old Coach Road)
Fieldfare 120 (near Gamebird, East Lancs)

Pink-foot numbers seem to have dropped in the past week, though there could easily have been many thousands out of sight on Simonswood Moss, and they where quite well spread out today. I would guess that the Ross's Goose is still in the area, since it has not been reported from elsewhere.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Carr Mill Dam

Firecrest 1
Goldcrest 2
Long-tailed Tit 15
Buzzard 1

The Firecrest was a very brief view with a frustratingly mobile Long-tailed Tit flock. It had first been seen at the start of the Goyt Valley mid-afternoon, but I had possibly two views of it, the first just past the boathouse, where the track turns left to Sandy Bay, and the second, a much better view, an hour later at Sandy Bay itself. The trick with this bird seems to be finding the tit flock. A better day is forecast tomorrow, so maybe it will be easier to pin down.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Rainford Mosslands

Ross's Goose 1 adult (Old Coach Road)
Pink-footed Geese 7000+ (5000+ around Old Coach Road, 2000+ Kings Moss)
Fieldfare big influx - at least 300 birds across the mosslands.
Redwing big influx - at least 200 birds.
Corn Bunting 1 singing male at Reed's Brow, Rainford.
Tree Sparrow 2 at Reed's Brow, Rainford.

I'm running out of superlatives to describe the scences at the Old Coach Road. My first view of the geese, was of a flock of about 5000 on Simonswood moss, viewable distantly from the Coach Road. Then as a I watched, small flocks started to leave the roost, and headed south along the Coach Road. I could see the Ross's Goose on the ground, but for a long time it refused to fly.

Then eventually it flew, and headed south with the other birds.

I jumped back on my bike and headed south with the geese. As I got to Woodside farm, near the East Lancs (and clearly in St Helens folks!), I found the flock, about 5000 birds on the ground near the farm, with the light right on them. I quicky picked out the Ross's Goose and watched it for 10 minutes at reasonably close range, until a farm vehicle came past and flushed them. It was an awsome spectactacle - the light was perfect, I could see every detail on every bird, a tightly packed flock of geese rising with deafening sound, and in the middle, a snowy white little goose, with black wing tips, distinguishing it from the superficially similar leucistic Pink-feet which are with the flock.

If you go to see this bird, please do not drive down Dairy Farm Road or the Old Coach Road.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Rainford Mosslands

Pink-footed Goose 10,000 (mainly Old Coach Road, with 2000 on Kings Moss)
Ross's Goose 1 adult seen very briefly in flight at 1:45pm
Curlew 131 (Old Coach Road)
Lapwing 300 (Old Coach Road)
Stonechat 1 m (Dairy Farm Road)

Staggering numbers of geese again, but frustratingly not often viewable, except when they took to the air. However towards evening they began to land on fields adjacent to the track to Old House Farm. There were at least 8000 birds in this one field, but still we couldn't see the Ross's Goose, though there were two leucistic Pink-feet. As we watched, two or three thousand more arrived from the west and landed out of view on Simonswood Moss. In total, we spent about 4 hours here for a 30 second view of the Ross's Goose in flight.

This is clearly now one of the most important roost sites in South West Lancashire for Pink-feet.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Rainford Mosslands

Ross's Goose 1 adult with at least 8000 Pink-footed Geese (Old Coach Road)
Pink-footed Geese 8000 (Old Coach Road)
Brambling 1 male (Dairy Farm Road)
Curlew 34 (Old Coach Road)
Lapwing 500 (Old Coach Road)

Stunning scenes from the Old Coach Road at it's junction with Dairy Farm Road. The skies were filled with Pink-feet, and towards evening even more arrived, with one flock coming in from Rainford which must have totalled 3000 birds alone. Estimates on numbers varied from 6000 to 10,000 birds, so I'm going with the average, 8000. A local farmer confirmed our suspicions that these birds do roost overnight on the moss, because he can hear them at night. Unfortunately, most were only visable today when in flight, and with them was an adult Ross's Goose, the same bird which was at Martin Mere last weekend. We saw it a couple of times in flight, and then right at the end of the day, after I had left at 6pm, I received a text from Ray to tell me that it was on the ground. I dashed back, and in the fading light I saw the bird reasonably close for about one minute, until a jogger spooked the flock, and about 5,000 birds rose with a deafening sound. In the absence of a Canadian ring, this is about as good as it gets with Ross's Goose. It's a wild bird in my book.

If you go to see this bird, please park sensibly at the start of Dairy Farm Road, and walk towards the Coach Road. Please don't enter any farmers fields.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Rainford Mosslands

Pink-footed Goose 700+ (mainly around the Old Coach Road).
Stonechat 3 (pair in Dairy Farm Road and male in horse paddocks along Old Coach Road).
Meadow Pipit 100 (Dairy Farm Road).
Swallow 100 (Old Coach Road).
House Martin 50 (Old Coach Road).

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Dairy Farm Road, Rainford.

Pink-footed Goose 500

Ross's Goose - Martin Mere

Ross's Goose 1 adult
Pink-footed Goose 8,000
Barnacle Goose 1

Who can say if the Ross's Goose is wild? If wild Ross's Geese do occur in Britain, then they will most likely be with Pink-feet. One thing for sure, it will become a wild bird as soon as it moves to Norfolk.

Scotsman's Flash, Wigan

Red-throated Diver 1

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Radde's Warbler - Great Orme

My second new bird of the weekend, and what an annoying little blighter it proved to be. When we arrived we were greeted by the cheery news that it had shown for 1 second in the past 3 hours, and looking at the amount of cover it had for such a skulking bird, it wasn't surprising.

We waited and waited, for 2 and a half hours with about 50 other birders, and gradually people began to drift away, but still no sign of the bird. Then, just as we were about to leave at 4:45pm, miraculously somebody got onto it, and there it was creeping around the botton of a bush. It was in view for about 30 seconds, and then was gone, but long enough for us to see everything we needed to see. A great little bird!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Stilt Sandpiper, Rustic Bunting and Pectoral Sandpiper

1 juv. Stilt Sandpiper - Campfield Marsh, Bowness-on-Solway
1 1st win Rustic Bunting - Walney Island
1 juv. Pectoral Sandpiper - Leighton Moss

We arrived at Campfield Marsh at 9am, to find a handfull of birders watching the Stilt Sandpiper which has been present for a few days. It was a good view and a nice looking bird. My first since the long staying bird at Frodsham 24 years ago. While we were watching it, a message came through on Rays pager about a Rustic Bunting at Walney Island. This was a new bird for me, but Walney Island is one of those places I dred going to, because it's a nightmare to get to and I usually dip on everything I go for there. However it seemed that we had to try, and we set off on the three hour (yes 3 hour!) journey from Bowness to South Walney Nature Reserve.

When we got to the reserve, we found about 20 birders watching the bird at a distance of about 100m and against the light. We had a quick look and then decided to circle around the bird and try to view it from near the Bank hide, which would put the bird in the perfect position for the light. The plan worked better than expected, and we soon saw the bird sitting on the fence much closer than before, and with the sun right on it. A great sight!

Then as we headed back home, another message came through on the pager. A juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper had been found at 4:30pm on the Allen Pool at Leighton Moss. When we arrived at the hide, there were only two birder present, and one told us in a "We're all doomed!" voice, that the bird had flown off 30 minutes earlier having been flushed by a Peregrine. Personally, I don't think he'd actually seen the bird, because he said it had been on the Eric Morecombe pool.

Anyway, five minutes after he left, we relocated it on the Allen Pool, and had really good views of it. A great day.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Eccleston Mere

Pink-footed Goose 21 over SE then N
Teal 4

Pink-feet have been late arriving this autumn, with only 16 at Martin Mere last Saturday. These were my first in St Helens this winter.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

St Helens Cricket Club

70 Barnacle Geese flew over at 9:30. This is a typical time of year for these feral birds to be moving around the area. They were probably moving from Carr Mill Dam to Eccleston mere / Prescot Reservoirs. I didn't notice the Red-breasted Goose with them, though it probably was.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Rainford Mosslands

Fairly quiet this evening. Highlights were 13 Snipe flying over Dairy Farm Road and then landing in the middle of a corn field (presumably there was a puddle in there somewhere!), and at least 80 Curlew still in fields alongside Old Hall Farm, at the junction of Dairy Farm Road and the Old Coach Road. No sign of any geese yet.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Back on-line!

Welcome to my new Birding in St Helens blog! On this site I'll be keeping you updated on any birds I see in St Helens, plus a few trips further afield. I'll try to post as many photos as possible, but I usually don't take great bird photos.

What a week it's been in St Helens! On Thursday 4th September we had a the boroughs first ever Grey Phalarope at Prescot Reservoirs, following the first Red-necked Phalarope at the same site last year. Now if we could just find a Wilson's we could complete the set! The Grey stayed until at least Saturday, along with an adult Black-necked Grebe.

On the way home from watching the Phalarope on Friday, I called in at Eccelston Mere, to find a stunning (yes stunning!) adult Kittiwake. This bird stayed for three days until at least Sunday.

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