Friday, 30 September 2011

Martin Mere

Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Red Kite 1
Willow Tit 1
Marsh Harrier 1 female
Tawny Owl 1
Kingfisher 1
Ruff 35
Pink-footed Goose 3500

Another tremendous visit to Martin Mere! I saw the Kite first from the Ron Barker hide, both in flight and later sitting on a fence post. The light was perfect, you could see every detail through the scope, and in the early morning sunlight there was no heat haze. Then about an hour later I saw it again even more spectacularly from the United Utilities hide as it flew across Woodend Marsh. While I was in the UU hide, I managed to pick out a Pectoral Sandpiper on Woodend Marsh, though it was a bit distant.

On my way back to the Ron Barker hide, I called in briefly at the Raines hide, and found the Pec Sand now right in front of the hide with a flock of juvenile Ruff!


Red Kite (left). Not the greatest photo in the World, but I quite like it. I think it shows the size diffrence between the kite and the Carrion Crow which is mobbing it. The photo on the right is of the Pectoral Sandpiper. Again it won't win any prizes, but worth noting the size difference between the Ruffs (left 2 birds), Reeve (2nd right) and Pec Sand (extreme right). It has been hanging around with the Ruffs for a couple of days......

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Eccleston Mere

Siskin 5
Blackcap 1 female
Goldcrest 2
Barnacle Goose 65+ flew over
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 20 flew over
Skylark 20



Brown Hawker

Red Underwing

Moth trapping has been ok recently, but perhaps not quite as good as might have been expected given the hot days and warm nights we have had this week. Red Underwings are always exciting moths to catch though, partly because they are large, colourful moths (about 40mm long), but also because everytime you catch one you're hoping that when it flicks it's wings, instead of red you will see violet-blue, which would make it Clifden Nonpareil, one of the most prized migrant species at this time of year.

Billinge Hill

Wheatear 1 on ploughed field below beacon.
Chiffchaff 1
Skylark 100+
Coal Tit 1

I counted at least 63 Skylarks flying around the horse paddocks and adjacent fields. The rest were flying over the beacon south west.

Carr Mill Dam

Cackling Goose 1

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Lesser Redpoll 1 over beacon (going north!)
Blackcap 1 female in Elder bush near beacon.
Chiffchaff 2 including one still singing.
Swallow 4
Skylark 50+ some going SW, others just hanging around, and 2 singing!
Meadow Pipit 30
Treecreeper 1
Goldcrest 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Mistle Thrush 17
Tree Sparrow 60
Yellowhammer 40
Grey Partridge 6 in ploughed field below beacon.
Grey Wagtail 2

Carr Mill Dam

Cackling Goose 1
Kingfisher 1

Cackling Goose Carr Mill Dam

When I heard that a Lesser Canada Goose had been reported from Carr Mill Dam this morning, I was fairly sure that it would be the same Cackling Goose which was seen at Eccleston Mere, Knowsley Park and Prescot Reservoirs in the August, and sure enough it was, with the same dodgy looking wing. However it's now looking even better, with a really nice purply sheen to the breast. It differs from the other Canadas in it's small size (barely bigger than a Mallard), short neck, tiny bill and dark breast. There is a debate on bird forums about this bird, and the majority seem to be of the opinion that the bird is a hybrid, largely because its back is apparently a fraction too grey, and it's bill a fraction too big for pure Cackling Goose, but it's a close call for me. In perfect light at Carr Mill Dam it may look a fraction grey, but with 20,000 Barnacles on Islay on a dull winters day, there wouldn't be many people saying it was a hybrid in my opinion! Interesting bird whatever the reality......



A nice size comparison with Mallard, Canada Goose and Coot (left), and a great view of its shiney purply breast (right).



Monday, 26 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Raven 2 over the beacon. Probably the St Helens resident birds just moving around.
Wheatear 1 in the horse paddocks.
Chiffchaff 2 in bushes around beacon. One still singing.
Skylark 100 mainly heading south west.
Meadow Pipit 50
Yellowhammer 40
Bullfinch 3

It was a glorious morning on Billinge Hill. Highlight was the Skylark passage, but the Ravens are always pleasing birds to get on a site list!

Burton Mere Wetlands / Inner Marsh Farm

We called in today at the newly opened RSPB reserve Burton Mere Wetlands on Wirral. It's basically an extension of the old Inner Marsh Farm Reserve, and is very impressive. At the moment you can't walk from the new bit to the original hide, but that is the next stage of the development. Most of the best birds we saw today were from the old hide, where we saw Water Rail and 20 Curlew Sandpipers and there was also a Pectoral Sandpiper which we didn't see.
However there had been reported Honey Buzzard, Bearded Tit and Hobby in the new bit before we arrived, so it's all very promising.

The new buildings at Burton Mere Wetlands.


Migrant Hawker (left) and Water Rail (right).

Barred Sallow, Queens Park

Last night I caught a Barred Sallow, the second for my yard but only the third for St Helens. My first was in 2002 and at the time was only the third Lancashire record, and the first since 1995!



Saturday, 24 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Willow Tit 1
Wheatear 1
Chiffchaff 1
Yellowhammer 30
Jay 4
Meadow Pipit 10 over beacon
Nuthatch 1
Swallow 3

I was particularly pleased with the Willow Tit. I thought that I had heard one on a couple of occasions recently, so it was nice to confirm it today. Also today, I'm sure that I heard a Redwing go over the beacon, but I've not heard of any others locally, so I'm a bit reluctant to claim it. A very distinct call obviously, but it was high up and the first of the autumn....

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Old Coach Road

Curlew 2

No sign of any geese today.

Billinge Hill

Wheatear 1 near horse paddocks
Skylark 10 over beacon
Goldfinch 22
Tree Sparrow 15
Yellowhammer 30
House Martin 10 over beacon
Swallow 20 over beacon
Goldcrest 2

Disappointingly quiet this morning.

Eccleston Mere

A nice flock of 20 Siskin feeding in the hedge along the stream which flows into the mere at its southern end.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Golden Plover 2 flew west over horse paddocks
Wheatear 1 near horse paddocks
Siskin 1 over beacon
Skylark 50 mainly over beacon
Blackcap 2 male and female in bush near beacon
Chiffchaff 4 including 2 males still singing
Goldcrest 2 in bushes near beacon
Bullfinch 1
Treecreeper 1
Great spotted Woodpecker 1 over beacon
Buzzard 2

Martin Mere

Red Kite 1 juv. still showing very well on and off.
Marsh Harrier 2 females.
Peregrine 1

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Martin Mere

Red Kite 1 juv.
Marsh Harrier 3 (2ff, 1 juv m)
Buzzard 5
Peregrine 1
Pink-footed Goose 2000
Little Stint 2
Dunlin 10
Ruff 30
Tawny owl 1

A great day at Martin Mere, the kite is a stunning sight, well worth a look if it sticks around over the weekend.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Eccleston Mere

Raven 4 circling overhead calling

Billinge Hill

Spotted Flycatcher 1 on wires just below beacon.
Wheatear 6 (4 on stone circle, 2 near horse paddocks).
Blackcap 5
Whitethroat 2
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 1
Swallow 100
Meadow Pipit 40
Skylark 20
Tree Sparrow 80
Buzzard 1
Yellowhammer 30
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1

Butterflies
Painted Lady 1 around the beacon at about 9am

Sometimes it's a bit difficult to say which birds are migrating and which are just local birds moving around. However most of the Meadow Pipits and all of the Skylarks flew over the beacon in a south westerly direction, and they are probably mostly migrants. The Wheatears and Spotted Flycatcher will be migrants, whilst the Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows are not. It's hard to be sure with the swallows and martins, but there has been a build up in numbers over the past few days, and they are probably a mixture of migrants and local birds.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Martin Mere

Curlew Sandpiper 2
Marsh Harrier 2 f & juv. m
Wheatear 1
Yellow Wagtail 1

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Wheatear 6 (4 in the horse paddock area)
Peregrine 1 adult over the beacon
Snipe 1 over the beacon
Grey Wagtail 2
Lesser Black Back Gull 100+ heading south in small groups
House Martin 70+ flying south west in one flock over beacon
Sand Martin 1
Yellowhammer 40
Goldfinch 40
Buzzard 1
Sparrowhawk 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 over beacon


I don't know much about toadstools, but Fly Agaric is one of my favourites.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Monday, 5 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Wheatear 2

Buzzard 2

Kestrel 2

Sparrowhawk 1

Yellowhammer 10

Linnet 30



Clwydian Range part 2

Following last weeks wonderful walk over Moel Famau, today we decided to walk in the opposite direction, over Moel Arthur and Pen-y-cloddiau. The weather was better than last week, and the colours even more breathtaking!

Moel Arthur and Pen-y-cloddiau are about 1500ft high, and both have the remains of Iron Age forts on their summits, built over 2500 years ago. The fortifications at Moel Arthur are particularly impressive, especially on the north side, as can be seen on the first two photos below. In the second photo you can clearly see the remains of the fortifications to the left of the summit.







The third and fourth photos are from the summit of Pen-y-cloddiau. This is a much larger fort than Moel Arthur, but is perhaps not quite as impresssive. In the first photo below you can clearly see the earthworks. The last photo is looking back towards Moel Arthur and Moel Famau from Pen-y-cloddiau.





Birds seen today included about 10 Buzzards and 5 Ravens.

Billinge Hill

Lesser Whitethroat 1

Wheatear 1

Whitethroat 2

Blackcap 2

Chiffchaff 4

Tree Sparrow 2

Yellowhammer 30

Goldcrest 2



All birds seen in the area around the beacon.

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