Sunday, 31 May 2009

Silverdale area


Bird's-eye Primrose


Painted Lady - there has been a huge invasion of these migrant butterflies over the past week or so.


Rock Rose - Arnside Knott


The first Small Heath of the year - Arnside Knott



Osprey, Leighton Moss

We were sitting in the tea room at Leighton Moss at about 12:15 enjoying a well earned cuppa after a morning walking the fells in Bowland, when I glanced up at the open skylight above us. All I could see was a letter box sized piece of the sky, but incredibly in that very sky, a large raptor was circling. We both agreed that it had to be an Osprey, and I dashed downstairs with my bins and out of the building. No sign of the raptor. I returned to the our table and said, "If an Osprey comes on the pager for Leighton Moss today, that's my bird!". Forty Five minutes later we were on our way to a well known butterfly site near Leighton Moss, when the pager went off - Osprey at Leighton Moss, 12 - 12:30! We had seen, identified and ticked Osprey from inside the tea room at Leighton Moss!

Four hours later we returned to the reserve. We headed down towards the Grizedale hide, when suddenly the gulls went up, and there, overhead was the Osprey. This time it was very close, and we had a much longer view. In total we must have watched it for about 15 minutes before it finally flew towards the Public hide, dived into the water, emerged with a fish and headed east.

The best views we had were from outside the Grizdale hide, where we watched in amazement as it was mobbed by perhaps 100 gulls, 3 Marsh Harriers, a few Lapwings and best of all, about 300 Black-tailed Godwits which flew at it in an incredible display of synchronised flying, to make the Red Arrows envious!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Somewhere in North West England

Sorry, can't be any more specific about locations, but just wanted to share these pictures from a fabulous day out.


Ladys Slipper Orchid


Duke of Burgundy Fritillary


Duke of Burgundy Fritillary


Dingy Skipper


Brimstone

Laughing Gull, Marton Mere

Called in at Marton Mere near Blackpool today to see this superb adult summer plumage Laughing Gull. This was a first in the UK for me.


Sunday, 24 May 2009

An exciting day in Yorkshire

Swillington Ings
Collared Pratincole 1
Whiskered Tern 3
Marsh Harrier 1 female

Calder Park, near Pugney CP
Woodchat Shrike 1 male

Hatfield Moor
Buff-breasted Sandpiper 1

We arrived at Swillington Ings at 10am, to be told that the Collared Pratincole had last been seen flying high over trees at 9:30. We hung around for an hour, and were compensated by three superb Whiskered Terns hawking for insects on the lake in front of us.

At 11am, with still no sign of the Pratincole, we decided to head over to Hatfield Moor near Goole, in the hope of seeing a Buff-breasted Sandpiper which appeared yesterday. Getting to the car park was the easy bit, but finding the bird was much more difficult. There were footpaths heading off in every direction, and after what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at an open area of peat diggings. In the baking heat, they were very reminisant of Mediterranean salinas, except they were black instead of white.

And right out, in the middle of these salinas, was a group of birders. So we had to walk on narrow raised banks, devoid of vegetation or any other form of life, until eventually, after about another 15 minute walk, we arrived at our destination. Full marks to the person who found this bird!

The Buff-breasted Sandpiper was well worth the effort. It was walking on one of the banks at reasonably close range. We watched it for about 30 minutes, before deciding that it was time for a bar meal at the nearest pub.

After our meal, we got news of a Woodchat Shrike near Wakefield, only a few motorway miles from Swillington Ings. This seemed a good bet because we still lived in hope that the Pratincole would reappear, so we didn't want to leave the area.

The shrike was a stunning bird, at quite close range. It was a summer plumage male, and performed excellently, sitting on top of a dead stump, and occasionally flycatching. As we watched it we got the news we had been waiting for - the Pratincole was back!

We jumped back in the car, and a few minutes later we were back at Swillington Ings, to be greeted with the news that the bird had flown off 10 minutes ago! Oh well, at least we knew that it was sill in the area, so we prepared ourselves for a long wait.

As it happened, we didn't have too long to wait. Somebody spotted the bird flying in the distance, and eventually we all had good views of the Collared Pratincole hawking for insects over the marsh.

A thoroughly good day, which could only have been bettered if yesterdays Terek Sandpiper had hung around!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Hilbre Island

Gannet 100
Whimbrel 3
Collared Dove 1

Another slow day. Will we see another migrant this spring? Always a pleasure to be on the island though!


Turnstone


Knot and Dunlin

Friday, 22 May 2009

Eccleston Mere

Common Tern 1
Mute Swan 5
Grey Wagtail 2 females
Great crested Grebe 3 pairs with 3, 3 & 1 chicks.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Great Orme, Llandudno

Melodious Warbler 1
Chough 1
Gannet 500

Also: Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Fulmars, Shags.

The Melodious Warbler showed very well in a Hawethorn bush on the Limestone pavement, and was my first spring bird. This bird was originally identified as Icterine Warbler, but re-identified as Melodious from photographs.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Hilbre Island

It was a tough day today on Hilbre. It felt like it should have been good, with south easterly winds, the threat of squally showers and migrants massing on the east coast. Unfortunately nobody told the birds.

There was a decent passage of Swallows and House Martins, but just a couple of Willow Warblers, a Wheatear and a handful of Lesser Redpolls were all that we had to show when I left at 11am, after nearly five hours on the island. Still, it's the quiet days like this which make the good days so much fun!

Highlight of the day was the arrival of six Mute Swans, which hung around for about an hour, at first feeding in the channel to the east of the island (presumably on seaweed), and later asleep on the sand. Also two Peregrines, a single drake Common Scoter, three Whimbrel and at least 60 Gannets out at sea.

Lots of great flowers, including Bladder Campion, Thrift and Bluebells.



Thrift


Bladder Campion


Common Scoter


Mute Swans


Martin Mere

Garganey 1 male
Avocet 60

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Brockholes Quarry, Preston

Red-necked Grebe 1 ad sum
Whimbrel 4
Reed Warbler 3

Plex Moss

Dotterel 15
Whimbrel 10
Wheatear 3

Hilbre Island

Sedge Warbler 1
Willow Warbler 1
Whimbrel 4
Wheatear 3
Gannet 20
Common Sandpiper 1 (on the whaleback)

Grey Seal 300


Grey Seals on the West Hoyle Bank


Sedge Warbler


Bluebellls

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Bob Dylan Number 1 on both sides of the atlantic, aged 68

"Together Through Life", the 33rd studio album of new material by Bob Dylan, is today number 1 in both the UK and US album charts, and is already a strong contender for album of the year. Meanwhile, now aged 68, the greatest songwriter of the modern era continues to tour with an intensity which puts lesser mortals to shame, averaging over 100 gigs per year all over the World. Keep going Bob!


Sunday, 3 May 2009

Sefton Coast

I had a great day today searching for Sand Lizards on the Sefton Coast (sorry I can't be more specific). We saw five in total, including 3 spectacularly green males, as well as 2 Common Lizards.


Common lizard


Sand Lizard male


Sand Lizard male

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Hilbre Island

Though it was a beautiful day, westerly winds didn't bode well for migrants, and so it proved, with only two Willow Warblers trapped. Even so, I managed to add a new species to my Hilbre list, a Common Sandpiper which was feeding on the "whale back" early morning. There were also at least 5, possibly 7 Wheatears on the island, and still at least 6 Whimbrel on the shore.

On Middle Eye, a magnificent Peregrine flew off the cliffs and away down the Dee estuary.

What really caught the eye today were the flowers. The south end of the island was awash with bluebells, whilst the cliffs were covered in thrift.

Butterflies today included Green-veined white and Small tortoiseshell.


Thrift


Bluebells in front of the obs building



Friday, 1 May 2009

Pallid Swift - Crosby Marine Lake / Seaforth

What an amazing evening! I was on my way to see Bob Dylan at the Echo Arena Liverpool, when a phone call alerted me to the fact that a Pallid Swift which had been seen yesterday morning, had unexpectedly returned to Seaforth. Knowing that I had my bins in the car, I took a quick diversion to the docks, but not being a Seaforth permit holder I went to Crosby Marine lake.

Within five minutes I had seen the bird, the only Swift present, flying over the perimetre fence and away over the marine lake. I dashed back to the car and made it back to the arena and was in my seat 10 minutes before Dylan emerged!

Pallid Swift is a Brit tick for me.

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